appalachian gods don’t believe in mehttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/IMG_6447.jpg?fit=1920%2C1280&ssl=119201280Matthew MitchellMatthew Mitchellhttps://barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/matthew-mitchell.jpg
& i refuse to believe that the waveform i scribbled into your bedroom wall has become a flatline beneath tiny amulets of white light, glowing carcasses scintillating in the moonlit night, & i’m not sure what to make of the transmission of the hospice van humming in the space your laugh once occupied, but now your bones inhabit
& from beneath my covers i imagined you asleep the same way i slept across the hall when the firecrackers were going off near your window. & now, when i sleep in your room, on the mattress with an indentation left by your remains, i wake up & my heart skips a beat & i cough up a relic of your grease-stained hands—it is then that i know i’ve inherited your dirty lungs.
& this christmas is colder than normal & i still sweat through clothes i haven’t washed since i came home from college & your body’s cooling under the flames of a wildfire in the belly of the monongah mine. & i’m overwhelmed with grief, but i’m not here to be romantic about it
& the glowing bodies have nothing to do with the glistening lanterns above your bed. & how they sparkle & dance into blurry goblets over your dying ambulance of a body is my reason for running away from the heart monitor’s claws that keep pulling you back for a moment to smile with your gums while your son cries by your bedside
& the meds hibernate in the bottom of your throat. & i don’t know enough about bodies & the movements they make to tell my mother where your sleep ended & i’m angry you won’t meet my wife or my children so i inscribe the skeleton of your name under the jagged mountains on your bedroom ceiling & press it into the topography of my future son’s birth certificate. & if heaven is technicolor, then appalachia is burning beneath blood-crusted mountains.
Matthew Mitchell is an Ohioan son of a teacher, forged in music, bloomed in prose, stitched together with Cleveland football. His work appears in, or is forthcoming to, journals like Noble/Gas Qtrly, Palaver, 2Bridges Review, Tammy, Chaleur Magazine and Botticelli, among others. He is trying to do much better these days, so give him some time.