Culpable

Every time I come close to thinking I may be unique
amongst the millions of mourners who are mourning right now
who want to beat

their foreheads against the nearest barrier,
a cloud of locusts starts buzzing around my mind’s volcano,
which erupts in slow-mo, brighter than the marquee lights
illuminating God’s beer fridge.

Why do I think I’m crawling up a mountain 
whenever I’m caught in the act of redemption—
like that moment of sleep paralysis when I can hear
a centipede creeping in the bathroom.

Maybe grief is a collective labour. Maybe I’ve shouted
my name in too many rail yards, chanting This is my kingdom
over and over into my father’s dead ear.

***

Lisa Richter is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020), whose honours include the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry (US), and Robert Kroestch Award for Poetry. She lives, writes, and teaches in Toronto.

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