Afterward
by Madonna Wilt


Today, I baked a cake for your birthday. It’s been a year,
Monday, since you passed away, but I pretended
you were still here. It’s just easier that way.
Yesterday, a policeman came to my door,
said your sister had run away, asked
if I knew what had become of her.
He was looking for some words to smooth
your parents’ worries. Imagination turned
to your parents’ silent walls, echoing your sister’s
unanswered calls, since you went away. I said nothing –
only asked the officer what he thought happened.

I’ve seen your sister standing
there on the corner, lending herself out
to men who don’t care, searching
for what she lost when you left. She hides
there, in darkened doorways. Feeble attempt
to escape; this world’s bloody needle
still clinging to her hand. Perhaps
an apology, but how? Please tell your parents
I’m sorry. Some things just can’t be explained.






Copyright 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.