top of page

Mortuary Files

I put on the locket

that I bought when my parents nearly divorced

and mourned you

although you had not died

 

I don’t rank the people I’ve lost

they’re just an archipelago of scars in my mind

 

In no particular order:

 

There’s K, the former stripper and aerialist

full of storms and fighting wit and pain

 

O, wry and small and deep-voiced

with beautiful insincere eyes

 

A different K, her fragrant hair like a summer storm

and shifting brown eyes

and heady cigarette kisses, her grey halo

 

T and L, a milkmaid and a fairy tale princess

one a competitor and one

a lost love

 

S, with hard firm eyes and

strong opinions;

tea, and tobacco, and a warm laugh

 

Some were friends, some were lovers—

or something like it—

 

I haven’t counted every fallen robin

(to steal from a better poet)

but the strafes and near misses score my heart anyway

 

And now my regard and respect for you

adds a headstone to the rows

perhaps I should have known better, but

 

whisper networks are like telegrams were; they travel fast

but sometimes, not fast enough

and when you need them, they’re too late

 

So the things that other people knew before

are things that I’m only learning now

 

If I’d known them then, would I ever have

seen the magic in your words

or just the plywood and glue and nails and paint

of hollow setpieces

 

Burning it all wouldn’t scour your fingerprints from my clay

I guess I’ll forever have to say “good art, bad person”

but now I wonder how good the art really was in the first place

 

All the awards in the literary world

don’t add up to therapy

 

(and on its own, therapy

Is not always good, or enough)

 

I don’t need for the people I love and admire

to be perfect

or even to know who I am

 

But I wish I’d trusted the madwoman in the attic

because you made your father’s mistake

and I guess it

Runs in the Family

 

I have my own stories and poems to write

and a beautiful new child to attend to

and beloveds

and friends

and an art collective

and an online community

and an immense, overflowing stack of books to read

by people that aren’t you

 

but the people I’ve lost pull me back to

grey and ashes and sepia

 

and sometimes, it’s important

to count what has been lost.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

An Open Letter to Neil Gaiman

The day I found out what you did Silver lockets might as well have been piles of ash flowing between my fingers Nothing was beautiful in my basement, I curled up on a beanbag chair full of stuffing An

i sent u my verse, pls respond

laying out a tender organ between unskillful fingers; hands shaking as I offered up a blurry picture of something intimate, naked, vaguely expressed— I immediately wished I’d played it off as a joke i

Comments


bottom of page