Michael Brownstein

THE TEXTURE OF DECAY

 

She knew her father by the length of his bones

and her mother by the way she only heard music in the noise of a crowded store.

Her husband hummed words through a chipped front tooth

his hands heavy with calluses, dew and rust.

When the thaw came, the river broke into boulders

and the great band of trees at its banks reddened into sunsets,

graying into evening, always more gray than the night before–

death does this to features around us, she thought,

death and fissures, wrinkles and nosebleeds.

Late in the morning she would stare at her hands,

still soft in the palms but curling into something else on their backsides.

She did not like the way they looked. I’m becoming bone too,

but my ears can recognize music from noise and my teeth remain strong.

In the evenings after the bleach left the trees,

she watched everything shadow around her, ice, roads, the river,

and she watched her skin change, tanning with the smell of decay.

Yet she continued, never looking back, and in the dusk of her life,

found herself on the porch at noon holding her man’s hand,

touching his scars and burned marks, his grains of strength.

 

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