by Adrie Rose

             after Ross Gay



it’s nearly 
your birthday, 
there are autumn
olives thickened 
like blood on ribs
on the branches 
along the bike path, 
the pregnant neighbor
gets a new bedframe 
and I’m remembering 
your back shimmering
with pain, liquifying 
with it, you wept 
every time you tried 
to maneuver yourself up
from the mattress on the floor,
you kept thinking you
would figure it out, why
didn’t you just buy
a goddamn
bedframe, why didn’t
your husband buy one, 
watching you boulder
yourself up daily,
now I
am trying to find you, 
are you in 
that one afternoon, 
late summer,
you laid 
the baby down in 
the yard and for once
she didn’t wail, she just 
looked around, the dark 
green grass fringing
the blanket, 
you thought, oh,
this is what they mean,
and laid down
beside her 
on the earth,
you thought it might
be easier from then on,
but it was only 
that half hour
of one 
afternoon, then
she screamed
so much for weeks
your mother in law
said you should take her
to the ER, maybe she
was right, 
you think now
maybe they were all 
right, you were too 
young, you did know 
nothing, are you
in that old 
timey restaurant,
eating baked beans, 
the day after, trying 
to think of anything
else, where your three year old
walked to the couple
at the next table 
and announced, 
My mother lost
our baby, our baby
washed away,

and they listened
to her, and nodded
and said, I’m sorry
to hear that sweetheart
, you
dumbly holding a hotdog
with mustard on it, 
she came back
to sit in your lap, pleased
with her new friends, where
do I find 
you, in all 
this sift and sinew,
the male poet is rejecting
this book again, 
saying this is just 
about mothering, a dirty
word, the filth 
of mothering, 
how can I find
you beneath the layers
of vomit and piss
and oatmeal and blood
and ketchup, 
who can even tell 
children love
to pretend 
to be wounded,
there was supposed 
to be joy
threaded through this but
you always cried
at your birthday, 
another year
wasted, there are ants 
in the honey 
again, autumn insisting
on gold 
and crimson, 
on splendor
in what is ruined 
or almost,
are you in the car again 
on that steep twisting hill
through the pines
to the school, snow
making the brakes
buck and shudder,
the nurse says
you have to take 
your child right now
to the crisis clinic,
they brought a knife
in their backpack
to cut themself,
are you in 
the waiting room
in those dented 
plastic chairs, next to
the depressing 
motivational posters, 
or are you home after,
singing the younger
to sleep, putting 
on Whose Line
Is It Anyway?

to cauterize
something in you 
by laughing, I keep
finding everyone 
around you
but I cannot
find you, how will I
claim you
if I cannot find
you and I, 
I just
want to get 
you out,
there was
supposed to be 
some benediction 
here but 
I am afraid
you are lost, a decade
of no one
even calling you
by your name.
I gathered
these red tart-sweet 
berries for you.
If you can, send up 
a flare.
I will come—


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