"Stage 1: Grief" by Rebecca Kokitus
My mother talks about my father in the present tense, I don’t talk about him at all.
I feel grief the only way my mother’s daughter could—by finding a thousand other things
to blame the hurt on.
You don’t realize that souls don’t only exist inside the body until someone’s soul is gone
and you stop feeling it.
The ties between the members of immediate family are as delicate as spider silk. We sew up our homes when they become broken. We tie each other’s black ties, we zip each other’s black dresses.
My father’s eyes looked greener as he neared the other side, the same way mine do after a long cry, like winter’s dead brown got an April shower.
His friends say the disease made him humble, but I think he always was.
"Bad Luck Boy" by Rebecca Kokitus
the first time we meet, he asks me for a light, he tells me he likes my denim jacket.
— It was my mom’s.
— Is your mom still alive?
— She is. But my dad isn’t.
— Oh. I’m sorry.
he knows there’s fresh dirt thrown over the places where I’m rotting. he tastes grief in my saliva the first time we kiss. he’s a mockingbird answering a mourning dove. I’m a burial ground for pain, his included.
— How do you cope with it?
— I don’t.
note the irony of finding a D.A.R.E. t-shirt in his dresser drawer. he unscrews the lids from
two pill bottles for me to leave my contacts in overnight. I wasn’t planning on staying, but I do.
we love like poets. our hearts are cigarette butts we’ve flicked from windows long ago, bloated with rain at the foot of every horizon we’ve ever briefly loved.
I tell him he has bad luck. he tells me it’s because he’s a bad luck boy. he tells me I look at him like we’ve been married for years. I want to tell him that’s how I look at everyone when I’m drunk.
black jeans, black jacket, white shoes. like Hermes—mischief with angel feet. eyes like amber with something dead trapped inside. he’s my reflection, shattered.
and again we’re strangers. the books he lent me collect dust.