Jovi Schnell, Detail from Rosaniline Momenta (acrylic and flashe on canvas), 2017

32,000 years ago, my husband texts me,
            ice trapped an Artic ground squirrel

& that might have been the end of a world,
                                    but scientists grew a flowering plant

from fossil fruit in her stomach. Should we
            have a third child?
I carry DNA from any man

                        I’ve had sex with, any child I’ve grown, I read
                                    online, so I’m never alone in my body. What

haunts our house, our daughter asks—she heard
            a man mutter, hook, line &—& what? A horseman

                        burying a red foal in the pasture’s gloaming?
                                    This guy, his 7-year-old boy was shot.

I can’t talk about him out loud.
My husband
            only cries for children. A father who loses his son

                        hews his body into a rowboat, creaked ribs opening
                                    to the son’s light—it’s gone, gone, gash left

as if he birthed him. Is the man still a daddy,
            our daughter asks, if he left his little girls behind?

                        Let’s play under the house, she sings, let’s, let’s all
                                    us ghosted girls play ring around dusty roses.

no one to teach us to die well. There’s no one
            to teach us to let bodiless children go. This guy

                        kept reminders, secrets, after they’d donated everything else
                                    baseball cap shaped to a tiny skull hanging

in the shed, baby teeth boxed & netted
            bag of sunlit hair in his desk. How harsh

                        mourning is: Does he say at night, Son, come home. Come.
                                    Whose voice does he expect to hear? Where’s

home now? He thought about killing himself, joining
            his son—he’d open his heart, emerging a stranger.

                        My husband saved me when I was young—when
                                    I tried to die. I haven’t been able to name

the chasm between here & there. Don’t leave me yet.
            The stars loom the little boy a blanket, hymning him

                        in the cinnamon dark. Now I couldn’t choose to cross
                                    over without my daughter. The father holds (though

his breaking bones) his body as spruce boat, still on
            dawn’s water, waiting for a heron to land on his prow,

                        together a little while longer. You could take care
                                    of the kids if I was gone.
We’re lashed where we’ll never

return, a homeland of small hands waving. Yes. Yes.


Nicole Rollender