Arrangements: Snake Boots, Church Shoes

I have not mistaken the line between “grieve” and “give.” It is there. And I am here. Not a funeral. Not a wake. Awake in a field, each vertebra pressing down on damp soil at the base of tall grass. Snake boots on Saturday. Church shoes on Sunday. Work shoes on Monday.

Until Friday, I carry this bag of disguised metal. Heavy as lead or steel. Illegible by luster. The sheen on my upper lip means I have been thinking a great deal about this. Learn how it goes. My bare feet wear dirt when I go for the mail, haul rubbish to the corner.

Literature on loss suggests: prepare. Follow-up with preparations. Rare are instructions on how to prepare for learning there is no way to plan. Newspaper folded over knick-knacks before they find ways to be lost.

Harness a knowing. A seed, a pet. A combining technology or advanced conjugation. I knew, I know. All along. Mismarked highways. Signs buried under blacktop. The trachea, an inaccurate map used out of habit. How do you say. Animal language from a human throat.

After the Animals

Some animals know well enough to herd themselves. The day after Thanksgiving. The warm enough air. The chimp’s neighbor calls like it hurts. Elephants lumber around the pachyderm compound. The blue building appeared after a calf drowned in the wading pool.

The sounds a mother must make as her child is eaten by wolves. Ruffled satin as the wolves eat. I ate shame years ago. On the plate shame looked like a face. The plate was a pillow. I avoided looking. Now I can’t help myself.

A mother palm wears a grocery list for after the animals. A mother hand flicks a toothpick from between her fingers, nails painted a hybrid shade of peony and coral. The toothpick lands beside a set of stroller wheels. In the seat, a stuffed tiger overwhelms an infant.

I lean lightly on another rail. This landscape: terrain and wheels. Glass upon glass. Grey caulk peels from the spectator’s side. Wolves tramping up the hill, bald chins to the sky. There, in the mud, another deerish creature makes herself filthy.

Gina Keicher is an Associate Editor for Black Lawrence Press. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She lives in Ithaca, New York with her husband, their cat, and their dog. Her first full-length poetry collection Wilderness Champion is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press. Visit her online at