An Afternoon After ~ Joannie Stangeland

Say tissue, like a paper handkerchief

          impossibly thin.

Say damage

          or impact, a punch in the gut.


Accident fits under your tongue,

          or ties it.

Pain sticks in your throat,

          grief you cannot swallow.


An afternoon after snow

          and crows take off from the lone

oak in a field burdened by white.


Emptiness falls from sky

          the birds cross in a dark cloud,

a loud scar of caw and wing

          too quickly, easily slicing the air.


Say sorrow,

          and it sounds too nice,

not close enough to loss.


You feel the bruises under your skin,

          hear what you can’t forget,

know that this year

          winter came too soon.