Matthew Brady Klitsch
Ode to Squirrel Twins
In late morning sunlight, behind the refuge,
you lie still on the floor of your pre-release
cage; my approach will not startle you.
I will be setting down your food and chart
with its two months of hand-written notes;
you’re dead, inexplicably, the other hand
will unlock air trapped behind parchment
teeth. For right then, I will know death is
magic and how to retrieve it and maybe I will
even add death to my repertoire. But no,
I will not love that moment
for anything happening in it. Yes, out of
that bag of tricks I could summon
doves and white rabbits for you
and I could make your card appear.
Yes, I’ll wish I were a thousand miles up,
being the one digging your hole
and being the one making you
vanish back through it.
The first two weeks were desperate
keeping you alive—-was there any point
where I wanted dirt for myself? Honestly,
your infant brother is frozen,
or in ashes, his obituary unpublished
in my warm brain. Diarrhea and Cold
make you suffer constant. It’s a question now
of undue stress. My supervisory decision:
let you die. I should not have been there.
Death, familiar face I’m waiting for.
I thought I heard Relief sighing in the corner.
I want to know, will I see you again?
In my hands, a tiny moon, waning,
Death, the sun behind me, raked
my ribs like a hungry cat. We’re naked
when we’re born—you’re a ghost now, cold
clay child. All the warmth you’d ever want
past this life; maybe there is a kiln
baking you into a final form. The subject
life. You must be gone by now, so
what can I say? What came first—darkness—
we follow willingly, wax on my hands