They say you can’t compare people’s suffering, but Rhiannon’s personal apocalypse is objectively stupid. Which somehow makes it more devastating. That someone with enough money and a nice fiancé and a flamingo shirt could be sad enough to turn herself inside out like this.
The statue of Mary extends a hand from her alcove by the altar, as if she’ll swap her cloister, her blue robes, and her thin stone lip for your chartreuse, corset-back gown and an hour pass to Cassidy’s reception in the church basement. It’s a tempting offer.
The body is gone. / But the shape of gravity is known. We carry her, / like a folded jacket of spirit, laying in our arms.
My little sister DeeDee drowned but they brought her back and now she is my dead grandmother. On the first day back to school, she accidentally bumped into Stanley, that fifth grader who looks like a seventh grader, and said, oh, cheese and rice.
You learned to spill by breathing out / make room for the warm marrow / that gives this pot its power
I'm in the back of the band room, sipping vodka from a dented Sprite bottle, trying to avoid Christopher Mackley and his overly earnest attempts to get me to buy something for the FFA fundraiser.
Am I the missing girl, my perfect niece? Am I her devastated mother, staggering towards us? Am I her devastated grandmother, crying into her fist? Her devastated grandfather, immobile at the table? Am I the silent Uber driver? Am I the men, grinning with their axes?
She was the only person who left me a note about what type of tree she is—which by the way is a magnolia. (Ask her why.)
I write that down and think of Tony perceiving all this. Will he wonder why we went outside to watch a string be cut in two? Will he understand the symbolism? Will his report to whomever convey a sense of community and perseverance? Will he understand why the drinks aren’t included?
She said that she’d like to go out to the lake in the afternoon and she pouted her lips and blew Richard a kiss and he pretended to follow it slow and long across the room and watched it fall into his cupped hands and when he looked up Elaine was just shutting the door.
Red-faced and enraged, I bite into / red strawberries, my face blooming / red. I read red words in a book my father / read. All of the pages are red. All of the words a- / re distractingly read.
The bottle she carries is real, each sip she takes is real, her heart beating invisibly in her chest is real—but she knows that nothing is really real until you have mimed it.
the priest speaks of my parents in many ways; though the undertaker speaks in one.
I imagined that necklace in a museum someday, the history of a world that had burned away etched on each bead with a safety pin. I wondered if the people in the new world would know the word museum.
The line to get into the club is down the block. That’s how you know it’s poppin’. At least that’s what Tripp says, rubbing his hands together so quickly I’m afraid he may start a fire.
The two of you have matching tattoos and yet she does not know the plunging depths of your self-doubt. You cannot let her know. You cannot let her know because she envies you—your witty captions, your nonchalance.
everywhere I look, I see eruption. A startle / of ice cracks off a branch above my head. / A local dog goes from saunter to sprint / at the sight of a squirrel.
These kids make you want to vomit. Not the hair: that could be got rid of with a good fine pair of shears and the good fine hands of buddies to hold them down while you do what’s needed. It’s the way they aren’t afraid, and you were promised fear.
After our discussion of childhood traumas, once / we’ve revisited a town in this valley named / Yettem (Armenian for Eden), you press your back against my chest.
When I talk on the landline these days, I can hear that telltale clicking my Russian friends warned me about. Someone’s listening in. Someone thinks I’m worth listening to.
Her mouth folds down, that puppet face of hers, eyes sad and pleading, yet she raises the empty point of gun to his chest. You know, she says, but I have such an incredible urge to shoot you.
The telephone is ringing and the dead on Everest answer: “I am so cold—please don’t cry. Everything will be fine.”
Outside, there are daisies that the astronaut’s wife has grown. She has always grown daisies at this house since they moved in, looked at the yard, said daisies, and it was decided. Outside, there are daisies, and the astronaut’s wife goes to pluck some for one of the vases.