John Brighenti CC
POEM FOR THE DECEASED AND ALSO THE LIVING FEATURING A DEAD BUCK
for my papa
Let me just say it plainly: I am the granddaughter
of a dead papa—whose spirit left like smoke-
straight up and out the window. We had years,
he was always old to me. When I was told
he had a bed at the local hospital, I was washing
dishes—oh no, I said. It’s fine,
they said. Oh no I don’t think so, I said.
I wish the narrative was more romantic.
What if I was near a mountain stream when I heard
he was dying? What if I was climbing a small
hill with white Edelweiss flowers swaying near
my feet? Please, someone tell me to stop.
There is no romance in ceasing. In the ceasing,
to absolutely cease.
He once told me about the last
buck he killed on a snowy October morning. It
wasn’t a clean shot so he tracked the beast
to exhaustion. He said: I came up to it, dying.
His eyes locked on mine—wild with panic-
there was no way to mercy without death.
And this is how it was when I laid palms to his fading
heartbeat. And this is how it was when, gaped, open,
and strained, his mouth begged for air. I say this to say,
now hear me:
I have lost solid ground-
and especially when it is quiet and bats fall
from the roof—when absolutely I am almost asleep
and the air moves in gray lines. Let me say it again:
it moves in gray lines.
Erica Anderson-Senter lives and writes in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She teaches high school English and Creative Writing. Her first full length collection, Midwestern Poet’s Incomplete Guide to Symbolism, is available through EastOver Press. Her work has also appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, the once CrabFat Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Off the Coast, and Dialogist among others. Her chapbook, seven days now, was published by The Dandelion Review. Erica hosts free literary events throughout her city to bring poetry to the public. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing through the Writing Seminars at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.
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