Journal of Writing & Environment

There’s hardly any phone pole left—just staples,

brown and rusted, sunk into the wood

like blunt teeth. Walking home after

the burial (a distant cousin, a face

from family Christmas cards) I think of how

her husband smiled, looked left, started to speak,

as if he’d find her where she always was.

And now the staples look like tally marks

for what hung there: an apartment up for rent,

flyers for a high school metal band,

a girl with braids gone missing for a week,

six months. The posters melted in the rain,

but the staples clamped down over emptiness.

I touch them with my open palm and find

I’m pushing hard. My skin collects their shapes.