Finalist, Joe Bolton Poetry Award
I sometimes believe that the breath, blunt-forced from his body
Had been returned.
Laid out on the collapsible cot
He begins to move. Beyond ambulance windows
Dusk joins the sky’s dark pieces,
Inspiring all things to come together.
Tom had a way of connecting, of understanding the whole.
The new moon offers its infant light,
Closing wounds, joining fractured bone.
It restarts his heart and the bright organs sing.
Vessels, veins open for joy. Love restores flesh
to memory’s bare bone: In the black night, stars appear.
How the sheet falls as he rises and passes through double doors.
And still I believe he is on his way home.
I keep passing my driveway, keep
circling the block, circling,
waking up in the house of butterflies.
It’s hard to think about Tom. It’s hard not to.
I want to go back. I want to start over.
I found my umbrella.
Years later I still have that corsage.
My mother corrects my hair brushing:
“Start with the ends,” she says,
“You’re doing it all wrong.”
They say it was an accident.
Not the driver’s fault.
You gave the guinea pig an aspirin, but still, it died.
Who could have known?
Everything smells like gin.
Snow falling beneath streetlight. Moths?
A magic carpet—could it be? Or just a migration of butterflies?
I walk down Hennepin Avenue.
From across the street, a man in a wheelchair shouts:
“Hey, you got some nice legs!”
Am I offended? Should I be?
I can’t stop moving.
The new drug is the same as the old one,
Only the name’s spelled backward:
Xanax, the last palindrome.
Chaise lozenge, chaise life raft,
Chaise in the shape of an antidepressant.
A life-size molecule, plastic and clear.
Umbrellas at the drive-thru restaurant.
Flowers of a fiberglass planet.
There are no paper towels.
When Tom died, I tried not to move and not to cry.
I still can’t breathe underwater.
Butterflies have been known to drink tears.
Imago is the last stage of butterfly life.
Death can’t put a name to a face anymore.
Adulthood reached, maturity attained,
I rake the boar bristle brush
Through my wet and squealing hair.
CINDY KING’s work has appeared in The Sun, Callaloo, North American Review, African American Review, American Literary Review, TriQuarterly, Black Bird, River Styx, Black Warrior, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. You can hear her online on American Weekend at weekendamerica.publicradio.org, rhinopoetry.org, and at cortlandreview.com. Her freelance work can be found at artsATL.com. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up swimming in the shadows of the hyperboloid cooling towers on the shores of Lake Erie. She currently lives in Utah, where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Dixie State University and Editor of The Southern Quill.