A Week after We Had Stood Together
over That Fresh Grave, 1968

Your shattered face as you came in from the dark,
our dog’s furry body draped over your arm

like laundry. What I regret? Not the lack of a fence
or a leash to keep him away from the highway,

but that after we’d called and called his name
and he did not come, you went out alone, Mother,

into the night. I did not stand with you beside this,
our second still-warm corpse in as many weeks.

Once, we embroidered flowers in a field of linen,
a romance of daisies passing between a child’s

small hand and a woman’s larger one. Hard to say,
even now, which one gave, which one received,

which one blamed, which one grieved.
Neither of us was suited to sorrow.

Every time I try to write you a love poem,
I wind up unearthing the skull of that season

when, like a predator, tragedy stalked our peace.
It was winter. Fog glazed the grass.

What I remember? Not that good boy’s name,
but the colorless nothing I felt, its lifeless weight.





Kathy Nelson, MFA graduate of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and Nevada Arts Council Fellow, and recipient of the James Dickey Prize, is author of The Ledger of Mistakes (Terrapin Books) and two previous chapbooks. Her work appears in Five Points, New Ohio Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. For additional information, visit kathynelsonpoet.com.

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