13 months

you’ve been dead and here I am still trying
to fix you, waking in the morning with a cure
in my mind — for the cancer, yes,
and all the old ills, too, all the things you never
reconciled. I want to lock you in a padded room
called health. I, too, want to draw your body
into some other rubric. My daughter refuses to sleep
alone. I am thinking of having another baby.
Perhaps the next one won’t enter the world
on the heels of so much death. So what if they do?
Isn’t that always how it happens? If not your death
someone else’s. I don’t know when it happened,
Mother, but somewhere in the day, a knot blooms
in my throat, and I realize I’ve barely been breathing.
Suddenly and for no reason, I’m gasping for the air
that presents itself freely to me. These strange things
that come upon us when we were so careful to resolve
our grief. All the while, robins in the long grass
pulling worms, red brush strokes
of cardinals flitting branch to feeder to branch.
Even the one who’s lost half his beak
manages to carry blonde seed
to his beloved when the snow falls.


J.J. Starr-McClain is a poet and writer in Springfield, Massachusetts. She attended the New York University creative writing program and has received support from Wesleyan University and the Community of Writers. Her work can also be found in The Common, Cosmonauts Ave, Juked, The Journal, and elsewhere.

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