THE TRESTLE AND THE THORNS

 

January—gray with leftover December darkness.

He’s dead, and I didn’t know he was sick.

 

Don’t you hate it when faux mourners adopt

the dead? Temporary status against

 

permanent loss. I stay home from the funeral

with the deeper pain after the surface pain

 

has slunk away. I let him go, so I’m not claiming

him now. I scratch my nails into window frost

 

clearing words that will melt away come sun.

You’re coming, right, sun? I start to sing a hymn

 

but even alone, I don’t have the will. Cold

in the big Out There, black branches’ desperate

 

tremble captured by the cruel trestle. Who’s going

to dig the hole in this weather? Not me,

 

with my shallow mourning.

 

Jim Daniels’ recent poetry books include Rowing Inland and Street Calligraphy, 2017, and The Middle Ages, 2018. He is the author of five collections of fiction, four produced screenplays, and has edited five anthologies, including Challenges to the Dream: The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards, a competition for high school and college students that he founded in 1999. His next collection of short fiction, The Perp Walk, will be published by Michigan State University Press in 2019.

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