by Sara Malott
I’ve never hurt so badly for someone I didn’t know.
I am working to rehumanize you, to turn your name
back into a feeling, to recover it from passing dinner
conversations. When I was younger, I used to hate
when my parents talked around me. I gathered snippets
like dandelions, but it was never enough to make sense.
I’ll explain when you’re older: worthy of little eye-rolls
and balled fists. Now, I am older and I don’t want
an explanation. I want to hold your children and cry
with them, I want to plaster your face around town
Your candle didn’t just burn out it was snuffed.
In explaining your story, my mother
started by calling you an alcoholic, but I know that yours
was not a simple tale. You are not a problem I need to
solve. I still don’t know how you ended things,
but that has not stopped me from inventing
that night in my mind. I do not want to turn you into
an example. In this poem there is only you and I
don’t believe we go anywhere after earth, but I would
try if it meant getting the chance to meet you. Yes, it
would be easy to say you got dealt a shitty hand, but
this isn’t a game and I’m sorry it was treated as such.
I found out that you liked to write, but I can’t say we would
have sat in a coffee shop scribbling about life together.
I think about it sometimes. To be honest,
I don’t know what any of this means. Processing you
is like trying to churn rock hard cement and somehow
I am always the fool expecting it to soften again. All I can
see is your skeleton hanging in my father’s closet, buried
so far in the back because I think he is trying to forget and
sometimes he exceeds.
But I never will.