Mourning                                                                         by Shuly Xóchitl Cawood

While standing at the kitchen sink, I peel an orange, its thick 
skin slick on one side, soft on the other. Pieces tear off in my hands, 
hands I pull weeds with, use to clap for other people, press numbers, tap 
on black keyboard, smooth the back of my husband when he’s hurting, 
when life wears thin. The orange breaks off in tiny sections that burst with joy. 
Through the window above the sink, out in the yard with its white shed 
and split-rail fence is a darkness I know. Soon, I will leave this house
and walk the street I’ve lived on now for more than a decade. The whole world 
goes with me if I rise early enough, the light still easy and loose. The birds 
will call good morning the only way they know how—through song, and I long
to sing, too, but I am still finding my voice. The birds will busy themselves 
with their own findings—worm and seed, grain and grub—and all of us
will be eating the sky with our eyes, feeding on the clouds. Trees will swish their leaves
in their waking, too. And I will walk until I am back home again, and my hands
will twist the brass knob, and I will call out my husband’s name, and it won’t be song
but he will hear it, and he will rise like the light of any new and better day.

Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is the author of The Going and Goodbye: A Memoir, and the story collection, A Small Thing to Want. Her poetry collection, Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning, won the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. Learn more:

Guest Editor Lori Martin is associate professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review and upcoming in The Tampa Review.  Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly.


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