Seven Days

Sometimes he has the thought
That if he slowed down his breath to match hers,
Forced his chest to move
As shallowly as her's did,
And his hands to lay as stiff and open
-like a bird's clawed grasp-
That he could sleep as gently and silently as she did.
*It is titled after the seven days of creation*

Seven Days



1. Division


Sometimes he has the thought

That if he slowed down his breath to match hers,

Forced his chest to move

As shallowly as her’s did,

And his hands to lay as stiff and open

-like a bird’s clawed grasp-

That he could sleep as gently and silently as she did.


Her room seems like and oasis.

It’s clean and quiet.

There’s always light streaming in

Through the window

Snagged through by thin shadows.

Sometimes they cut across

The shape of her wrist,

Or the side of her face

And he’s afraid she’s tangled somewhere,

Between the light and the dark,

Broken into jagged pieces.

And he brings down the blinds,

And turns on the lights,

So that he doesn’t have to see her that way anymore.


Then, in the artificial light,

She looks almost like a doll,

So he kneels by her side,

Presses his forehead,

To the cold metal bars of her bed,

And the starched, white sheets between,

And the heels of his hands,

To the warm sockets of his eyes

And the prickling heat beneath

So that he can better imagine

The glowing bright-white he knows to be her wings,

And he prays.


2. It's Not Heaven


He ignored the looks from the cashier

At the front of the gas station

And meandered through the iron rows.

He dragged his hand along the crinkle of plastic

And the clank of cold cans.

Each rustle and drag

Of metal against metal

Made the corners of his mouth

Twitch upwards.

He glanced back at the woman,

Her dishwater hair

And her blotchy cheeks,

And he thought that his mother

Was a hundred times more beautiful.

He smiled at her,

And without breaking his gaze from hers,

Began loading cans of soup into his basket.


They fell and settled with a rolling clank.

He knew what six cans

In a plastic basket felt like.

He grabbed seven.

At the cash register,

He grabbed the first pack of gum he saw,

Flicked it onto the counter just to hear it land.  

He wished that he could buy

A box of courage while he was at it,

Thought of the brand his father brought home

In brown bottles and silver cans. 

The one time that he had tried it,

He’d ended up curled up

In the gap between his bed and the wall, 


He’d cried until his chest was heavy,

And his stomach was sick and empty.

He’d gasped, and shook ,

And heaved in breath after wet,

Heavy breath until he was done

And all his tears

Were just a dry,

Tight itch on his face. 

Afterwards, he’d felt lighter,


Like nothing could hold him down.

He'd wondered if it was the same feeling

People got after praying.



3. Growth


She told him that true faith

Was found in the grace of God,

Which he could never deserve.

He wondered if that meant

That she deserved it

If the gossiping women

And hen-pecked men

Who attended their church

Knew what it felt like,

To be blessed.

Wondered if the secret to God

And all the love he had to give

Really was found at the bottom of a bottle

And the slandering of another's name.

If not, then they had never seen God,

Never believed in Him as He was meant to be,

And he realized then,

That all the faithful gathered,

And raised their hands in praise,

To the only deity they could ever imagine.

There was nothing rational about it.


4. All That Breathes


The birch trees shamelessly reveal

Their most secret of skin,

Bare, pale, and uncolored as it is,

To the winter morning sky.

Their limbs are long and graceful,


Stretching out to poke at

The distant clouds

And seduce them closer.


Graves are clean,

Freshly scrubbed,

Flowers set to freeze at their bases.

The sun shines through,

High in the sky;

All the glory of a winter morning

Bleached away in a glittering display.

For a moment,

Everything is white,


And radiant.


5. The Weight of Water


The accident was completely avoidable.

They were traveling mostly at the legal speed.

The road was well lit;

There were no black cats,

Or kids in black hoodies

Jumping out into the road.

The car in front of them

Didn't come to a sudden stop

And none of their tires spontaneously exploded.


it was his father.

Instead of looking at the road

And the cars in front of them,

He’d been staring into his rear view mirror,

Fixing angry eyes,

At the broken down car

He'd had to swerve around.

Expletives had been dripping from his mouth

Like acid rain,

And each one had made

His mother's hands jerk around

The tight grip she had on her bible

And its creased pages.

She didn't say anything, though,

Didn't look up.

So like his father,

She didn't see the red light,

Or the speeding hummer either.

There was the squeal of tires

On a rain-slicked road

And a crash as their car

Was propelled off the bridge

And into the cold water below.


6. Broken Ribs


The doctors said

That she had spent

Too long in the water.

She was thin,


She wasn't able to tread

Water as well

And the few times she had gone under,

She had swallowed water.

Pneumonia had settled into her lungs.

It made her chest rattle,

Her broken ribs shake,

And she coughed up yellow phlegm

Until she couldn't take anymore;

Let her limbs flop off to her sides,

Like every single one of her bones

Had been shattered in that crash,

And she couldn't even hold herself anymore.


She wouldn't talk to his father or him,

Wouldn't even look directly at them.

Sometimes she'd pray to herself

In breathy, high-pitched whispers.

She was condemning them;

Asking God to show them the error of their ways,

To heal her both inside and out,

To take away her rot and her infirmity.

He wondered what she would say,

If he told her that He let the accident happen.


He doesn’t like

When his father visits the hospital with him.

He doesn’t like the fact

That his father always has to walk

In front of him,

That he waits for him to match his pace

Before speeding ahead,

Never holds the door for the elevator,

And his dramatic pause at his mother’s doorway.

The way his shoulders heave upward,

And his hands catch on either side of the frame.

His father takes a deep breath,

Steps in,

And shuts the door behind him.

Every time.

When he slips into the room himself,

He feels like an intruder,

And the only thing comforting him,

Is the fact that his mother

Is just as silent for his father

As she is for him.

Because of this he’s able

To stand beside his father,

Gather one of his mother's chill hands

Into a clammy one of his own

And bring the back of it

First to his lips,

And then to the sweaty heat

Of his forehead.

They stand there together,

A simpleton and a zealot,

And worship their idol in their own ways.


7. Rest


Shiny black shoes.

Sundays best starched

To crisp perfection.

The ground is warm,

Ready to accept our decaying friends.

The grave is marked,

The well is dug,

We lower her down

Where she may bloom.

Flowers will grow

From between her ribs,

Daisies will pry her joints apart.

From her eyes will sprout the roses,

And ivy will twist along her spine.

Those below are more beautiful than before

While the living above pull at collars,

And tight nooses,

And long black sleeves.

Dress fit only for the mourning.

The End

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