Erotic dancing takes the place of Greek tragedy
just as the gladiatorial fights did in Rome—but it is a
private dance
no one can touch or see. A feeling every day I enter and close
a curtain behind. Sitting alone with it,
looking at it through a tiny hole,
something lithe and naked, shaking in the spotlight
beyond which I can never reach—

suffering cannot do what it did for Christ.
We do not get to go home afterward, cannot be
imagined into the arms of the absent father. See how
I do not rise up or shift the stone, do not
inspire a nation—I sit at the bar
consuming fried food. I put $5 into a machine
and shoot bucks with a long green rifle,
not speaking, not calling out anyone’s name,
just me and the deer
grazing in a digital clearing of the wood.

I can’t tell anymore for whom I grieve.
Something bigger
and more catastrophic has died
but died out of necessity—something that thought itself
into indispensability
something burst from every atom
outward, like autumn fireworks over the lake
and now
I’m just recording its scream and glitter-down,
just making a serial
from its fantastical, dazzling demise—
I can’t tell anymore whether I am grieving you particularly
or I simply find life and death erroneous—this
big expired grief
                      like a limb people deny ownership of, find
in their beds and throw on the floor, only to be told
            again and again, when the
whole body is thrown with it—that it is


           it is theirs, that they were
born with it.

Copyright © 2017 Bianca Stone. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.