A journal of narrative writing.
Animal Griefs

I am going to have to say no to my first son’s hawthorn and no to my second son’s ash. And that won’t be enough: it’s almost December, the boys’ bodies breaking ahead for the trees, arms high, tearing the rag sky to cinders. She was our cat Bea and she came here like we did to rest. She will need their hands and rain pooled by a firm pine. Into the dirty waters of our dead the ash that was flesh becomes precious. Hard light drags its claw through the brine. I find a needled sapling and drop the box, too square for her leaps and hungers. My first son kicks a rock and my second lifts strips of sodden bark, mottled like old fur, pressing them in mud. He grabs the box. He sings and digs his hands in. He lurches and sings as if there can be no grief: ash spills and whitens his sneakers like snow. Now our grief‘s a mess, nothing her needled tongue would approve. The boys leap for torn leaves. They can’t be sure how they care. When I die I am sure it will be November and the bodies around me now will steam in cold white air. My son’s sneakers are red with the plastic blood of superheroes and gray and white with the memory of breath. I am going to have to carry him out of here: his feet will mark my legs the way sparrows stain bark with whistle’s salt, their song’s sour desire.