First Brush With Death, If Every Footstep Made a Sound

by | Oct 15, 2019 | Issue Eleven, Poetry

First Brush with Death

I was four when your grandmother died.

We made the trip from Florida to Pennsylvania.

It was snowing when we got there;

that’s one of my earliest memories,

the flakes falling down from the sky,

easy on the breeze, melting in my hands.

I was frustrated that I couldn’t keep them,

amazed at how they vanished.

I don’t remember anything about the funeral

except the ground was cold when I sat on it.

I played a game with the snow while people talked

over my head; I’d catch flake after flake

and make them disappear.


We visited her home after the funeral.

She left some things for you.

I remember how the kitchen was covered

in ants like living wallpaper.

They were bigger than the ants in Florida

and darker too; I was fascinated by them,

wondered where they had all come from,

where they would all go.

I had to get out of the way, you said.

But I could take something,

anything I wanted from the kitchen.

I chose three large wooden spoons,

called them shovels. You sent me out

to dig holes for the ants,

and when you said that you cried.

All afternoon you cried while I dug

tiny graves in the snow.

If Every Footstep Made a Sound

These men dance when their blood is boiling;

these men sing when they are out of words.

Veil your face while these merry men mar the

world, slashing blindly at the roots.

Can’t you see the butterfly dance in time with the

violin whilst the shongololos roll the Earth in herds,

numbers so great the galaxy is forced to march?

The floating army, the well-disciplined old coots

who fight in wars that are never won or lost.

Tell that to the Afghans, the Koreans, the Kurds.

Wink at them with your big round prairie eyes,

or are you afraid of guerillas in pajamas, cats in suits

whose drones fly overhead taking our temperatures,

razing cities, raising ruckus, mocking the birds.

“What are you fighting for?” asks the mother of

her child while she cuts the laces of his boots.

Read more Issue Eleven | Poetry

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