I wrote this poem in response to a distant loss, but as with all complex loss, the aftershocks linger. I wanted to explore the imagery and symbols of memory, how reminders live inside fleeting moments, small objects, or arrive with a snarl as bigger beasts—and even after years, there are these reverberations, quiet hauntings, a sort of ebb and flow of recollection.
The burn of old suns rose just on the horizon
but I sailed off, the sea vicious,
guess I’ll never know where you buried us.
I cut open the belly of a whale looking for Jonah
inside the guts of eight years,
held a shattered bird’s wing cradled to the heart of a bride.
Hairline cracks in the delicate bones nestled fingers
trying to tame the hair still clogging the nest under
standing black water in the drain
Hollow howling dug a hole through the door
and I thought of the animals hiding from you.
Try and fly away now, you said, see what happens.
Cracked the shell out of me, grew me small,
box of rusted locks couldn’t keep you away.
The night the stars went out in force of the blast—
the wall portrait cracked, spilled out to sea.
Curtains from that first apartment thrown to the wind
roared and at long last, earth crumbled out east in Nineveh.
Before the wave, I looked at you on the other side,
the sea bobbing me to sickness.
The soft mouth of the fish could’ve saved you,
open and straining the storm.
No fish, no whale, no god ever wanted you.
Choked on your ballooned face in the bathtub.
Now the deer are out back chasing ghosts
but I don’t ask them about you anymore.
Spread the word!