On The Anniversary of Your Father’s Death, Which I’d Forgotten

you say here is where i saw the black bear it stood
up and then ran but it was right here of course
I ask if you charged it or fled and you say
I put my car in park. we are on a mountain
you used to live on. we are going to take a picture
of the apartment that is now someone else’s.
everything is smoke blue looking out.
you don’t say it but I know you feel like dirt
under some child’s finger drawings,
waiting for the next pull and drag, erase.
that stupid nail clipping moon.
when you show me the screen of your phone
and it is your father’s death certificate, today’s date,
I feel like altitude on the inside of ears or a hole;
the space you leave in the story of the bear
so it sounds like you survived something.
On the way back down I look for them:
black and ash shapes to gasp at. we drive right by
because there’s nothing. I’m sorry I stopped you
from knocking on the door that used to be yours.

About Sally J. Johnson

Sally J. Johnson’s poetry and nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in the Collagist, Bodega, Weave, and Everyday Genius. Her essay, “Teach My Body How To Behave” was a finalist for the Redivder Beacon Street Prize. She can also be found on Twitter and Tumblr.

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