Boldy, He Utters
by Terry Cox-Joseph


We cling to one another beneath the khaki tent
inside the tree-clotted park
perched at water’s edge, precarious,
wooden floor beneath us supported on stilts.

We think of a man, a gun, a silver-hot bullet
to ease the pain of demons that wouldn’t let go.
Or was it a knife?

Through her tears,
his wife told me that the company she hired
to clean the mess
tore out cupboards, yanked refrigerator,
threw away packaged chicken, cottage cheese,
romaine lettuce biohazards. All that remained
were gaping holes.


Hermit, artist, writer
untamed hair, glassy eyes, body towering,
Heathcliff in the meadow, raging.
His sister cut him off. He scared her. No blame
but still, guilt tears mingle with sweat and rain.
She remembers one winter when they ventured
onto the thin ice,
nearly drowned.

His wife thinks he’ll like it here
cast to the cool reeds.


Even in death he rages.
Thunder cracks overhead, raw through open tent flaps,
lightning illuminates his wedding picture
brightens yellowed news pages that feature his photos,
mementoes propped on an army green cot
with lilies and mums. Umbrellas huddle in the corner.

Bunched shoulder to shoulder
we sing “Amazing Grace” a capella.
Minister’s voice fills the muggy space,
opens canvas triangles, mingles with downpour.
His words shear brighter than unexpected lightning:
He took his own life.

There it is,
raw like the mud beneath our shoes.

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