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"Unburied State of Life", "Deadheading Grief" Sage Ravenwood

Unburied State of Life

Spread fingered, bent knuckle crawling, my hands

thrust deep in the moistened loam. I bring a handful

of fresh overturned earth up to my nose inhaling

petrichor, the first rainfall after days of sun blazing

warmth trapped in dark muddled grains of soil.

Dirt trickles between my knuckles, leaving behind a

tiny eyeless anvil skull. I delicately finger brush away

moist debris down to needle thin incisors, mourning

its wee demise. Such a tiny remnant to house the

smallest of brains, soul devoid. Not wanting to separate

the skeleton of this once living minuscule creature, I dug

tenderly around the excavated hand hole like an amateur

archeologist searching for fragile remains, toothpick

thin ribs or linked vertebrae trailing into a diminutive

curled tail. Instead I unearthed a hidden cache of mice

skulls, some long buried to brittle paper-thin husk, sinew

sewn tendons in different stages of rot and ruin, and one

lone eye not bug ate. Tiny skulls gathered in a state of

decay, but that lone eye defied any last composure

I held; judging scorn for the unburied state of life and

death. Unceremoniously I dig deeper, pawing dirt like a

dog after a bone and shoved the mess of skullage into

dark abhorrence. My calico coon lounges against

my knees sunbathing, amused. I’ve upended her plot

and lost the battle. Every mouse rescued

from her jaws, another felled to worship in the loam

skull pile. She would bless me in the richness

of the soil or the throaty purr of defiance.

These fragile bones of life and death.

Deadheading Grief

Do plants feel pain?

Deadhead desiccated blooms.

I wince, plants whine.

Each removal a wound.

Cucumbers scream when sick;

To feel a part of you dead or dying,

a phantom limb, a missing.

Is this grief? Is Flora healthier

for the loss. Am I?

Flowers bloom among wilted

dead, thrive stronger

for the wounding.

I’m screaming,

inside this silence.

I don’t want to feel, touch

this dead sense. Grief stains.

I can’t sprout new ears,

deadhead body parts.

The trees tunnel roots to feed

other trees, butchered of limbs.

Nerves misfiring,

memories whispering,

voices, knock on door.

Knock on wood.

Timbre sounds like timber.

We all fall down.

Tossing Pebbles Into the Abyss

There’s a cold palm on her forehead

Inside a dark thick as a coal miner’s shaft.

A bone chilling startled gasp fogs her breath.

Over her shoulder an oil hued woman

Reaches from beyond the grave through a canvas

Hanging behind an iron board.

Patina melting off her outstretched arm,

Turpentine splatter squelching out a body,

Dripping down into a kaleidoscope puddle.

A mass of bead strands clicking together.

Nails flicking against the door like tossed pebbles.

Weary whimpers turn into a halfhearted snort.

She’s stuck in a horrifying comedy cliché.

The house settles quietly around her still frame.

There are basement steps beneath her feet;

Damp air sucking exhaustion from her lungs.

Stillness is what she came down here for.

A momentary reprieve from barking dogs,

Arguing for arguments sake with anyone in earshot;

Swimming through floods of apocalyptic warnings.

News outlets streaming hate your neighbor,

And there’s a one tin soldier riding away with her mind.

Anything worth saying grew mold in her mouth.

Yet, she believed eventually the sun was going to stop

Dying so the moon could breathe.

After all love wasn’t a foreseeable guarantee these days.

Despair in a musty stairwell was the new normal,

With tendrils of light creeping beneath the door,

And shadow paws pacing a ditch of worry.

She reached up to turn the doorknob

Expecting it to fall off and bounce down the stairs.

Instead reality pounced and slobbered her face.

Behind her tomorrow was crawling up from the dark,

She slammed the door shut and slid the lock in place.

Soon enough to deal with the beast who ate her peace.

That ghost can paint itself dead again.

No Exoneration

Becoming a woman at nine

Too young but Aunt Flo knows

Opinions are a dime a dozen

Long sleeves and skirts below knees

In any weather is a statement

Read the bruised tattoos on her skin

Eyes are ‘not’ the windows to the soul

Punching bags never had one

Skin suits housing a haunting

Her silence isn’t the loudest scream

Slaughterhouse animals squeal louder

What roils up a throat has a bitter aftertaste

With a touch of bloody spittle

No one is home upstairs at night

When the door creaks open

She blames herself

For pissing off god with childlike wonder

Getting over ‘it’ is a guilty conscience

Climbing over all the selves

Buried inside a little girl

She’s nine going on forever

Read the Scars

For every preconceived flaw

A heart shatters far too easy

Tongue’s knife blade language

Collecting stab wounds wider than

Cracks in a sidewalk breaking a mother’s back

Love is a useless talisman

Taking confidence hostage

There is no bruised family ego

A fist curls tight in the shape of love

Slapping silly out of laughter

Childhood disappears so easy

Remember Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs

Crows eating the path to salvation

Sapience dragged to an abandoned monastery

Despairingly choked like a dog chained outside

Where belief takes wing through the cathedral’s roof

We can’t sleep with hope anymore

Innocence drowned on the banks of puberty

The sky knows dawn always breaks darker

Before the light gets in

And mistakes are broken bones

We stopped remembering

How to play the blame game

Gambling with a lifetime supply of pain

Each game piece a gravestone

Memory plots six feet deep

With coffin nailed skinsuits

Sage Ravenwood is a deaf Cherokee woman residing in upstate NY with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi, and her one-eyed cat Max. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence. Her work can be found in Glass Poetry - Poets Resist, The Temz Review, Contrary, trampset, Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Pioneertown Literary, Grain, Sundress Press anthology - The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry, The Rumpus, Lit Quarterly, PØST, Massachusetts Review, Savant-Garde, ANMLY (Anomaly), River Mouth Review, Native Skin Lit, Santa Clara Review, The Normal School, KHÔRA, Pinhole Poetry, and more forthcoming.


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