i have met death, and she is a gardenerhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/16_40-hr.jpg?fit=1920%2C1751&ssl=119201751Shelbi ChurchShelbi Churchhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/22ShelbyChurch.png?fit=96%2C96&ssl=1
my partner and i dip our words into a lit flame,
fling them across the room soaked deep-blue
hours later, the apartments
across the street burn down;
smoke chokes a starless sky.
our downstairs neighbor overdoses on sunday
and it’s four days before his dog’s starving cries
break the threshold of inattention.
the anniversary of my uncle’s electrocution
passes—april 29, 2005—quietly
with his family’s last four heads in a solemn nod.
this year, i swear, will be the year i learn
how to prick my finger and put the needle
back. how to tell the storm thank you
as if it knows to stop lighting just short
getting older means i now know loss
is not the shoreline retreating into
the heaviness of water, but the water
itself. so dense with memory, so terribly cursed
death rakes my front yard, polishes
the windows, plants peonies and
chrysanthemums in the flower bed.
she reaches through an open kitchen window.
first, the hand. then, the body.
sneaking in, cluster of static silence
against white linoleum, casting anti-light.
first, the blur of what grief could be—
then the swift cut of what never will.