Rachel Kramer CC
Spill of Blue
I wake up today and every cell is blue.
I think of all the sads. I have relinquished
the vision of a pristine yard.
Instead I choose the wild –
The soft pink, the fuchsia, the white azaleas --
they will be loyal in their blooms next spring
and I can rely on the rhododendron
who love the mulch of dead leaves.
When I glance in the mirror,
my skin has that blue tinge
that people remarked on in 2012,
the year I lost my nephew in February,
his love affair with fentanyl ended badly.
My father succumbed to old age
that October and my mother joined him
twenty-one days later.
The hardest surprise was the day
in December, just before Christmas,
when my brother followed
the son most like him.
I never know what to call it --
I take a weekend drive to the ocean
on the Georgia coast. The water is rough,
a remnant of the hurricane, but I find
an old fisherman who shakes his head
as he agrees to take me out.
When all that is left is the green shadow
of land, I turn into the wind and watch
is water, even the sky. I feel the blue cells
gather in the root of my body, a nucleus
that spins into a ball, travels up my spine
to my crown then back
to my open mouth where I watch
as it spills out of me into the sea. It sinks
and flutters and sinks some more.
It stumbles along
on the gentle slope of the continental shelf
until it reaches the Blake Plateau and stalls
before the ocean basin. The water
is so deep here that it looks black and the spill
of blue is almost sparkly against its darkness.
It twirls in a column,
drops away in the escarpment.
Though it is too dark to know, I am convinced
that each cell drifts down
— 16,404.2 feet --
and how I know this number when I can’t recall
the exact dates of their deaths is a mystery,
but they flash like beacons as I send
kisses into the depths.
When I got the news you died in your sleep,
I was playing Silent Night. Holy infant
remnants floated up from piano keys
and hovered outside of me.
Me, with you, on your Harley,
gone to visit the Buddhist Temple
off the highway. You turned left
and after three miles over bumpy road,
you pointed out the Chuparosa blooming at the prayer hall -
it matched the monks’ saffron robes.
Riding back to Chino Valley, we passed
twisted Juniper trees. You joked
they were like our family as we sped past
Cottonwoods and Crucifixion Thorn.
I tried to recall the signal for stop,
but you were already braking.
We sat and listened to the leaves
clatter in the wind.
You and me on your Harley, we rode up
to Sedona to visit your Yavapai Holy Man.
He gave you a ceremonial feather,
the one that rests in the shrine I keep for you.
You and me on your Harley,
the day of the hawks you always saw first,
and the antelope feeding along Highway 17.
After you died, the coyote appeared before me,
yellow eyes glowing. I thought he was
one of God’s messengers
when I saw you standing next to him.
Your prison tattoos and missing tooth
never let me forget the times you were locked up.
You mentioned bits and pieces,
in the dying light on the porch,
your voice choked enough for me to understand
your pain and fear of no redemption.
I could almost smell the decay and I turned away.
I didn’t know you would take my breath away
the day I opened the lid of the Monopoly box
to teach my granddaughter to play.
She reached in with her small hand
and when she uncurled her fingers
the metal dog you used to claim as yours
was warming in her palm.
Kristy Snedden has been a trauma psychotherapist for forty-plus years. She is also a trauma survivor engaged in her own healing process. She began writing poetry in June 2020 when the pandemic magnified the stress experienced by trauma therapists. Her poem, “Dementia,” received an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 90th Annual Writing Contest. Her work appears or is forthcoming in a variety of journals and anthologies, most recently in Snapdragon, Open Minds Quarterly Journal, The Examined Life Journal, and Power of the Pause Anthology. She is a student at The Writer’s Studio. In her free time, she loves reading and writing, hiking in the Appalachian Mountains near her home and hanging out with her husband, listening as their dogs tell tall tales.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.