The Corners of Our Room
Death feasted on dust in the corners of our room.
Death fogged our windows.
It peered over our shoulders,
until a witch doctor spirited the shadow away.
Death was there when the vase of flowers
on our bedside table crashed to the floor
in the middle of the night.
We were sound asleep,
the shatter woke us, and you whispered,
“She just died.”
Death was like walking down Broadway at midnight.
A maze of bright lights and noise:
yells and honks and sirens and screams.
A beating heart is a delicate thing.
Death scratched, clawed and howled
in the canyon of our fears.
We lost our balance, and you swam in
puddles of watery moonshine.
When I was a child, my babysitter and
the neighbor boy drowned in a pond in the park.
I watched them sink like rocks.
The police drove me home.
From across the street, I watched
the mother scream and fall
to her knees and pull up clumps of sod.
Now we can only ask, why are we the ones who were saved?
hiss off tongues,
hushed against myriad shades of purple.
They might be kind,
and explain to their sons, this is not about you.
But daughters will be left behind.
raw flesh, pink, silky, hairless scars
glint off beveled glass,
meaningless words drift to red tides.
burrow deep, hidden caves.
This is remorse,
rising like hot air,
falling down in acid rain.
Jail, prison cells,
iron and arched bones set against rage,
bow to reach the black water’s edge.
a place of worship, of barren quiet.
What will happen when
our voices carry, without shame?
Claire received her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. Her poetry has appeared in many fine literary journals and anthologies, including The Midwest Quarterly, Pirene’s Fountain, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Literary Orphans. She is also a contributor to the anthology “America Is Not the World” by Pankhearst Publishing. Claire’s poetry chapbook is “Vortex of Our Affections” (Finishing Line Press, 2017).