GRIEF HARBOR, 1995
Those hours the attic window reflected
my face, I watched scenes from the afterlife:
the frozen pond stray dogs licked mid-dusk
as the ice whitened to a sheet of milk glass,
rows of houses lining the far-flung hills,
chimney smoke billowing, breaking
apart as if the flames might reassemble
and plummet back to earth.
Then the sudden moon, its silver spotlight
spread across the tool shed’s tin roof,
and the limb shadows of mimosas spilt
onto the grass flecked with frost crystals.
In my tenth year, what did I know of grief?
The dead crested rooftop to rooftop,
passing through the latticework of spiders,
quiet as pine needles trembling on their branches.
Out there, the world was the color of iron,
and I stepped into it,
where the cold swung in like a creaking gate,
and the dead refused to leave. What did I care?
I climbed out onto a jutting branch,
and snapped off an icicle, sent it skittering
across the pond, the best place for grief.
John Owen is an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he teaches composition and creative writing. His publications include in A View from Here. In 2009, he was a finalist for Yalobusha Review’s Yellowwood Poetry Prize. For three years he served as Managing Editor for Western Kentucky University’s literary magazine Zephyrus, and he was an editor for Steel Toe Books.