by Audrey Gradzewicz
After the Cotton Nero ax f37v
Grief sleeps in gillyflowers and dreams of grief.
You can usually find Grief beside a river
trading inscrutable expressions with fish.
Grief likes to rub his face with a dirty eraser.
When he’s in a bad mood,
Grief likes to erase everything
but the pointer finger on his right hand,
so that Grief can only beckon.
Grief thinks if he drapes himself in red,
no one will notice that he’s a hunchback.
Grief is a hunchback because when he was a younger man,
he dreamed of becoming a pearl. Every day,
he’d shout to his reflection in the river: “Be round!”
Grief’s daughter is a pearl dressed in pearls
who lives on the other side of the river.
Either Grief’s daughter is dead, or he is dead;
Grief can never be sure.
Grief is tired of rivers and dreams.
What Grief wants now
is to hide beneath the spongy gills of mushrooms.
Some days, Grief is the color
of winter sky. Grief still prays
to become iridescent, like a pearl. Most days,
Grief is the color of parchment.