What You Ac­tu­ally Lost

Prairie Fire - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - CONYER CLAY­TON

I con­vince my­self

death comes from the wind

I kill you

with my ex­hale

with the roughly chopped gar­lic

I dream of my mother

a baby gets measles

I put on the wrong al­bum

you wreck your car

I see a dark­ness in my own eyes

a tu­mour starts to form

I fo­cus on the bruised skin of an orange to pro­tect my­self

this isn’t un­fa­mil­iar

I’ve run ceme­tery paths ca­su­ally

and been scolded by a woman

sit­ting at her dead hus­band’s grave

I’ve stared at the turn­ing leaves—over­looked

the names. I no­ticed the wild­flow­ers, not

the freshly turned earth they sprouted from

I woke to­day

with the image of blood spilling

from an um­bil­i­cal cord onto my fran­tic palms

div­ing naked into a snow­bank

scream­ing the news of death at strangers

My dreams seep

into the light­ness of my grey mat­ter and the dark­ness

of my daytime thoughts. I woke heavy

as my mother’s calm voice

a dark brown stain on the car­pet

sim­pler than the im­men­sity of the un­ex­pected

sim­pler than griev­ing what you ac­tu­ally lost

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