I’ve been hunting pyrite suns.
Rarer than diamonds, incredible what dirt can do under pressure.
Like sand dollars, Jeanie, the ones we found at Caribou Island,
wearing Daddy’s old t-shirts, making baskets out of cotton.
Boots sticking and slurping in mud.
They feel like china in my hand. Grainy, but delicate.
Tiniest tap against something harder and they crack. Ruin.
They do look like suns, Jeanie. When I brush away the grime,
the rays. Beaming out from center like they’re
broadcasting the very story of Earth.
Soaking up all our histories in coal.
They always have a little stone next to them. Black and slick.
Orbit those tender white discs like a satellite.
Probably not deep, but I see us mirrored there, Jeanie.
The way we let all that muck settle on us.
How our shine lapsed into something murky, after Mama left.
Those stories we faked for anyone who questioned.
Things are brighter here, Jeanie. When I’m not down in the dregs.
The guys at the mine, they call me ham-handed. Slow.
But we’re getting to be friends now. Things are settling.
Got a place too, nothing fancy but the appliances work
and there’s a big window in the kitchen. Lots of light.
I’ve got you here every day, Jeanie.
In the morning, especially, sipping coffee at sunrise.
I don’t have to stencil on that smile anymore.
Make real ones when I think about you.
Found a way to focus on the before of things.
Easier far away from Daddy. Maybe it’s cheating,
but forgetting has kept me all these years.
Kept me whole. Or else my bones would shatter
just like yours, baby sis. Or else I’d just break apart.
by Kim Mannix
Editor’s Note: At first glance, this poem reads like a simple letter from one person to another. However, as the imagery unfolds within the conversational tone, the reader slowly comes to understand the ominous narrative that forms the backbone of these words.