Jason Shinder


At Sunset

Your death must be loved this much.

You have to know the grief — now.
Standing by the water’ s edge,

looking down at the wave

touching you. You have to lie,
stiff, arms folded, on a heap of earth

and see how far the darkness

will take you. I mean it, this, now —
before the ghost the cold leaves

in your breath, rises;

before the toes are put together
inside the shoes. There it is — the goddamn

orange-going-into-rose descending

circle of beauty and time.
You have nothing to be sad about.

Jacksonville, Vermont

Because I am not married, I have the skin of an orange

that has spent its life in the dark. Inside the orange I am blind.
I cannot tell when a hand reaches in and breaks

the atoms of the blood. Sometimes a blackbird will bring the wind

into my hair. Or the yellow clouds falling on the cold floor
are animals fighting each other

out of their drifting misery. All the women I have known

have been ruined by fog and the deer crossing the field at night.

The Party

And that’ s how it is; everyone standing up from the big silence

of the table with their glasses of certainty and plates of forgiveness
and walking into the purple kitchen; everyone leaning away from the gas stove

Marie blows on at the very edge of the breaking blue-orange-lunging-

forward flames to warm another pot of coffee, while the dishes pile up in the sink,
perfect as a pyramid. Aaah, says Donna, closing her eyes,

and leaning on Nick’ s shoulders as he drives the soft blade of the knife