Two Poems by Z.G. Tomaszewski

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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. TomaszewskiZ.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 Mineral Whisper (Finishing Line Press, 2017). 
Header photo of Sandhill cranes on river by Simmons B. Buntin.

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