Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Study of Tragedy

We can’t help but stir the ashes, finger
the relics, the proofed bits of minutia
improvised into legacy: the missing girl’s

last drink—a cherry vodka sour, the box of
long-stemmed roses by the door
wicking a spot of blood. Is it too much
to remember the girl
abducted on her way to school
had a check in her pocket to buy a lamb,
or that the window was left open that night
because the woman burned the meatloaf?

We can pick through the crumbs
trailing into the troll-dark forest;
no one will be following them back home—
the shoe by the bridge, the spent cigarette,
the button, the handprint, the hair.

We want to reassure ourselves there was no
ambush, that no one was sleeping
when the stranger crept into the bedroom.
We’d like to believe in inklings, patterns
of fate, more than footprints in snow,
or a pillow used as a weapon.

Read the words in the diary of the dead,
backwards this time. Were there signs
of a struggle? Hadn’t she sensed someone
was watching? Were his dreams about falling?
Look deeper into the photo, into the tea leaves

of the iris of the eye, beyond the pupil’s
black eclipse, the sea-grassy current
of synapse, sphincter, cilia, the mechanics
of cell—the synchronized cogs in each
slippery hinge triggered to swing open—
the last white dove poised to fly.  end  

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