“She said, ‘Lift.’ ” and “She said, ‘Let go—I’m a memory. I’m not real.’ ”

Poetry by Dom Fonce

She said, “Lift.”

I remember being told to soak

myself in unreason—that words

fall to pieces because the wind

needs her role; not everything

must be a weight to grunt over.

In you, amber formed to gem-

stones that I plucked and ate

like strawberries, that I carried

with promise—I floated in

the unlikeliest of ways—

your glass foaming inside

my throat. Moving forward

is pleasant when the belly

feels warm and full. Now, as change

calls, I am not Hasnah; I cannot

remove you from me in crystal

tears. I can only cough

a red glow up and drop

it on a star—each retch

an inch closer to Earth

receiving the soles of my feet,

a polished memory, though false,

laid neatly on a table.

She said, “Let go—I’m a memory. I’m not real.”

I’ve counted every single hair

you left in my room, gathered

them up, and scattered them

in the grass. It is not enough

to wash away the blood;

the wood must be burned too—

each carpet fiber must be picked,

each nail lifted, each floorboard

taken to the pile. Everything you

touched and touched you, smells

and tastes of you, will be eaten

by the sky. In the end, I reshape

matter and mass in the yard. I’m

mad, making an effigy in the dirt—

my last good look at you—and digging

for roots, anything that will keep me

tethered. Anything is a ritual if prayer

comes before practice. I cut off

the swath of me that was taken when we

lay in bed, fantasizing a future

that failed to materialize. It is okay.

Earth will retake her ashes—us too

in time—but no memory is tangible

and whenever I try to pin it down,

the location thins to clouds

in my grasps. You are unobtainable,

anima trapped inside a bottle, and the lid

burrows into me with each twist.

About the Author

Dom Fonce

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Dom Fonce is a poet from Youngstown, Ohio. He is the author of Here, We Bury the Hearts (Finishing Line Press, 2019). He is the Editor-in-Chief of Volney Road Review. His poetry has been published in the Tishman Review, Obra/Artifact, Burning House Press, Black Rabbit Quarterly, Italian Americana, 3Elements Review, Junto Magazine, America’s Best Emerging Poets 2018: Midwest Region, and elsewhere.