This grieving process has not been allowed to take its course,
free flowing river dammed up til it slows to the drip-drop of a rapidly slowing heartbeat.
I make the trek to the grave site at all hours of the day
to dig through the loose dirt with quickless fingernails.
I reach the remains and cradle them as if newborn,
stroke the bones as if they were still smooth flesh,
ask the leaking marrow yet again where it all went wrong.
The length of my mourning should not surprise me.
I have never left anything alone long enough to fully heal,
picked off every hardened scab and have
nothing to show for it but a body full of pockmarks.
I call upon every love goddess, Aphrodite, Freya, Bast,
pluck the newborn hairs from my brows,
and drop them to the earth as offerings.
I beat my closed fist against my breastbone
and demand for it to be my turn.
Let the crepe lift from my neck and be replaced
with layer upon layer of starched lace.
Let me trace the lips of another and finally have the gesture repeated back.
Hallowed be thy names, thy facets.
I maintain belief long enough for the wish to be granted
then I blow out all the candles,
rebury the remains,
and place a newborn sapling atop.
Rachael Gay is a poet and artist living in Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Ghost City Review, Rag Queens, Déraciné Magazine, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review and others.