In This Strange Light

by Jarrett Moseley



I google “HEAVEN?” and learn 

            about the shimmering room 


where souls are pieced together 

            before they’re shot down 


through the sky above us

            and into us. 


The night I met Bea, 

            smoking a cigarette 


outside of Sharon Pres, she said

            when you recognize 


someone you’ve never met

            it means you were assembled


in the same room, from 

            the same light. I laughed 


as she turned away

            but then, I began to see it—


each person’s individual 

            brightness. In the coffee shop, 


a man bends to feed 

            pound cake to a small black dog


and at the edge of his fingers, a bright red shine; 

            the barista’s hair falling from her cap,


bioluminescent; a soccer mom’s leg

            glows green


as her daughter hugs her shin

            and the light bleeds


into the little girl’s chest. When 

             a soul bleeds, it needs 


someone to catch the leak. 

            A week before I met Bea,


at the same church, too drunk to stand

            I vomited Purell  


on the sidewalk at Mason’s feet. 

            The warmth of his hand


shimmered across my back 

            as he drove me home


and gaping in the center 

            of my slumped chest


was a dark purple wound. The souls

            have their own lives. 


Sometimes we feel them 

            push their shovels into 


the dirt of our bodies 

            more deeply than other times. 


Like the mountain trip

            to a waterfall where I saw 


Drew’s dragon tattoo for the first time 

            or, when I look at the picture I took 


of Mason on the hike back to the car.

            At the edge of the photo, 


sunlight shoots through the over-brush 

            above him, straight at the camera lens 


and cuts a black hole 

            where his face would be


so all you can see

            of his small body


is a red shirt climbing 

            the 60-degree angle of the trail


like a cardinal taking off 

            into the sun. 


Some darknesses 



like light never could. 

            Puddle of piss  


on a hospital bed, body laid

            in muddy snow, a black sunflower 


glimmering on the side of the road 

            during the drive home—


I was too fucked-up to know 

            if the color was real


without anyone there to say. 

            The souls don’t care. They only 


carry us from one sharp tack 

            to the next, one cliché sun 


to the deadness of 11:30 PM. What brightness 

            claps a door shut in me? What 


tender skin sharpens

            the thing trapped inside of it? 


The last time I saw Bea

            was the night she screamed


and shattered Mason’s computer

            with a fidget spinner—


exactly 354 days before he died

            in that same apartment, a needle pendulum 


swinging from his vein, 

            brightness gone. 


We drove her up and down Independence  

            for hours searching for the psych ward.


I pulled her, elbow first,

            out of the Waffle House 


after she shouted

            in the waitress’s face, and placed 


a Newport between the split knives

            of her fingers. Face emotionless 


with tears, she mumbled

            “I thought she was going


to attack me.” The shovel 

            hit a rock inside my chest. We took her 


 to a bright room. They took 

            her shoelaces, her name


to keep her.

            To keep her from bleeding.


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