I reach the gap— the place between rivers, rivering all day through underbrush of blackberry, sky folding over its gauze, and just now cranes pull through a waxing sun, net their feathers as a degree of glimmer edges pupils—in one I see the shape of my childhood, breast molting, a memory shedding its facts: my brother in the hospital bed beside me, post-surgery, one-organ-less later and stitches to keep skin from pulling apart, but the needle—opening an eye to the piercing light, the cross-hatch, image-burn, the way the cranes’ wake is a scar healing, how they cast and break the spell of their arrival, and here, the wheat cheering up, softening, and the river, that place between rivers, the gap… my brother eating blackberries.
Last Day of Childhood
Shovel blade struck through a snake, my grandma’s hands hold the handle, the head pushes out its forked tongue. Grandma never liked them in the garden, especially with grandchildren around. I am not sure when she started to do this, during the days he was alive or after grandpa died. That once though, I remember it so intimate, so clearly: she walked away, snake split in two, buried it with some strange tenderness. I wanted to call out to her, in that far field where horses run, but then I noticed no one else saw what she was doing. It felt like the universe gave me this secret to keep. How, in the eyes of our family, she was strong, but alone just how much she really missed him. I wonder if after we leave she will weed the garden or let it grow—her kneeling as a stallion comes to a slow walk, catches her scent, and waits.
Z.G. Tomaszewski, born in 1989 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has two books of poems, All Things Dusk(International Poetry Prize winner selected by Li-Young Lee and published by Hong Kong University Press, 2015) and the chapbook MineralWhisper(Finishing Line Press, 2017).
Header photo of Sandhill cranes on river by Simmons B. Buntin.