Oh please

Kelly Gray

I haven’t died yet at the hands of autumn, those death hands made of fragile leaves. Brittled and then wetted. I come offering lamb. A curry of colors; mustard, dusted pinks, a violet so muted it is made of flour and lilac. I used to love being strangled. Patchworks of lichen lining my oak throat. I can sing two songs, one a lullaby, one a murder ballad. The imprint of my body marks the barn. My splintered back is a mark too, your love in wood, the thinnest form, always. If you dig up this earth, you’ll find me. My face in the mud, small animals denned in my stomach. The moon cannot reach me with her unreasonable call towards romance. The silliness of spring, I reject thee. I drink from the base of a tree, suck roots with my mycelium mouth, transport stories from one alder grove to another. Everyone knows now that trees talk to each other, even this mystery becomes clichĂ© on my old tattered dress. I have nothing left to reveal. Look at the cricket body. It hangs from the window by a thread, the spider approaching. A bird will not retrieve it. We must wait for winter to wash it away.

Kelly Gray (she/her/hers) is a writer living on Coast Miwok land exploring mental health, institutionalization, eco-grief and family. Recently, her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Passages North, Newfound, Pithead Chapel, Trampset, and Driftwood Press, among other places. She is the recipient of the Neutrino Short-Short Prize from Passages North and the ArtSurround Cohort Grant of Sonoma County. Her collections include Instructions for an Animal Body (Moon Tide Press), Tiger Paw, Tiger Paw, Knife, Knife (Quarter Press), and My Fingers are Whales and Other Stories of Cetology (Moon Child Press). You can read more of her work at writekgray.com.