Mar 10

Nine years and still
we cradle our grief
carefully close,
like groceries
in paper bags.

Eventually the milk
will make its way
into the refrigerator;
the canned goods
will find their home
on pantry shelves.

Most things find
their proper place.

Eventually the hummingbirds
will ricochet against scorched air,
their delicate beaks stabbing
like needles into the feeder filled
with red nectar on the back porch.

Eventually our child
will make her way
back to us. Perhaps.

But I’ve heard
that shooting
heroin feels
like being
buried under
an avalanche
of cotton balls.

For now it’s another
week, another month,
another trip to Safeway.

We drive home and wonder
why it is always snowing.
Behind a curtain of snow,
brake lights pulse, turning
the color of cotton candy,
dissolving into ghosts.

And with each turn,
the groceries shift
in the seat behind us.
From the spot where
our daughter used to sit,
there is a rustling sound—

a murmur of words
crossed off yet another list,
a language we’ve budgeted
for but cannot afford to hear.

Jonathan Witte
Written by
Jonathan Witte  Silver Spring
(Silver Spring)   
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