Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Balm: as in a handsaw taken
to dying branches; my mother

when she prayed us cut the air
off, those final gasps the purest

she’d ever known; as in that time
the doe the dogs left living by a thread

leaned that thread into our bullet;
as in the unnamed herbs my wife’s

grandmother swears held her head
sweaty & adolescent, but upright,

astral, cradled by the only kind of arms
the internment camp had to offer, that

child-size tea set she smuggled through
a half-century’s worth of indignities

that now rests on our mantle, chipped
from our own children’s violent whims,

themselves the balm, those missing
wedges, those unspoken memories;

as in the aged neighbor who just handed
me two rolls of toilet paper because loss

means something different when the whole
boat is sinking; as in my gratitude, my selfish

gratitude for everything I haven’t had to steal,
the shreds of light that makes this loving less a cage.  

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