We collected them like talismans
from every roadside and hill,
sky bloodshot with gold, softness
rising in our throats at the sight of their stillness,
eyes plucked from some of the rabbits like pearls.
Your mother married a man who sent her into the river,
held her body as it thrashed like the minnows
that later drained from her body.
It was a way of love for us, the fawns curled with wet,
sparrows stripped of their wings.
Each one, when set alight,
sent a plume into the dusk;
we considered this
a kind of baptism.
They kept saying the woman was on the roof again,
perched like a heron with toes curled over the edge.
They’d caught more fish that week than any other,
trout with their blush of pink smoothness,
tuna slipping through palms,
faint touch of salt, dusk spilling over their bodies.
You live like that, you live like a ghost,
what space must there have been
between her wanting to stay
and her wanting to leave, something like grief,
something like the seconds between
the hook and the catch,
the thinking better of it
and the release back into water.
Meggie Royer is a Midwestern writer, domestic violence advocate, and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Persephone’s Daughters, a literary and arts journal for abuse survivors. She has won numerous awards for her work and has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She thinks there is nothing better in this world than a finished poem.