The Atlantic

pins us to a sky
we cannot grab or squeeze or smash
why affix us
above water anyway

because of salt, squids, and submarines

the way we compress pain
bundle grief into:
-Categories-
that year / that time
before we bought the house / after our firstborn’s birth
when our younger son died
after you were deployed

first generalize
then renovate our brain
with modern memories
sleek black granite and
chrome kitchen memories
that no longer include
date-stamps of sailors
lost in the ocean
when I was your military wife

smudge and blend the synapses
with chalk pastels
into an orange-pink-red sky

no more holidays alone
with sympathy pink taffy and orange marmalade
packed into flag tins
no more anchor gifts
no. more. anchors.

now,
permit me the walking space
to leave the sky
go to the end of my brain’s beach
turn around
and paperclip the moon
onto one more day’s end
then wait, stapler in hand,
to fasten tomorrow’s sun into place
before anyone can question
the authority
of a sea life, manually operated

Kimberly Sailor, Mount Horeb, WI, is a 2019 Hal Prize finalist in poetry, with poems also appearing in Sixfold and The Bookends Review. She is the author of the novel The Clarinet Whale. Sailor is the current editor-in-chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board, and holds a publicly elected seat on her local Board of Education.

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