Dirge for ice sheets receding

Caitlin Roach

Everything bends to you. Even the creeping
sedum slows to apprehend you, splitting cracks

more open at your passing to wrest what notice
might still exist inside you. The last living box

elder, hunkered resolute in the corner, flickers
in its moldy hull like a twitch, knowing nothing

but awaits you. Somewhere yarrow readies itself
to stanch the blood you’ll let from it and airs its

sweetness still to solicit even your indifference.
All those Julys spent damp in the fern room

where the egg fruit swelled and swung adjacent
to the drunkard’s dream, dancing bones glutting

deep yellow bells swinging, kept me on my knees.
The weeping fig never clapped a tear from its glossy

stem then. Still you bent to stroke forth shame from
the touch-me-not to see the plant’s spines rise,

to watch it live up its name round your finger.
Haven’t I been this sensitive. I’ve seen black

blacken in the center of you. I’m not trying to
capture light. I’m after the dark bit dumbed by

the brightness flanking all sides but still whirls
around its own dark heart, purging impractical

fractions. That, or the velvet ice slats slipping
away from their silver throats so surely I cannot

buck the thawing, I can never remember. Anything
but the clasp. But the bells’ wet din.

Caitlin Roach earned an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2017, Colorado Review, Poetry Northwest, West Branch, Copper Nickel, The Journal, Prelude, Handsome, and The Iowa Review. She is an assistant professor-in-residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she teaches creative writing and literature. You can find her online at caitlinroach.com.