Another Day After by Lane Henson

Another Day After
—May 25th, 2022

I’m looking at nothing
out the window trying to remember
the last time it wasn’t raining
when our kindergartner’s voice rings out
clear as forked lightning
through a mouthful of Cheerios:

my safe spot is under the teacher’s desk
only four of us can fit

I try to stop the next thought
before it clouds grey in my mind
distilled and terrible as a storm in the casing
of my skull.

Her older sister, a fifth-grader not to be outdone
recites her pledge:
my country ‘tis of thee
Alert
Lockdown
Inform
Counter
Evacuate
sweet land of liberty…

Oh America
you cling to your violence
tighter than a security blanket, don’t you?
dragging its tatters behind you
long after you should’ve outgrown it.
Your newsfeed is engorged
on blood like a spring tick.
You offer only prayers
as empty as air
in the brief silence
between this flood of bullets
and the next.

The rivers are rising in the downpour.
They are shrugging off the vulnerable
shale of their banks.

———

When we drop our girls off at school this morning
we take them right up to the door
open the door for them
fold their umbrellas
watch them walk through and away
until there is nothing left in the closing glass
but our own faces wet in the endless rain.

by Lane Henson

Editor’s Note: This lament demonstrates the only way poetry and art can grapple with absolute tragedy—stuttering, shocked, inadequate.

Ghost Limb by Lane Henson

Ghost Limb

From my chest
there is a hand that extends
a hand that opens into the dark
like an eye led by moonlight
that unfolds the dog-eared maps
unrolls the charts across
the table’s worn top
measures the contour lines
the Lake’s bottom
and the sheer cliffs along the shore
navigates the burr oak leaf’s
waxy curves
thumbs agates
hunts the glistening light of geodes
turns over and over again
the milky green sea-glass,
stretches back to the prairie
to horsehair and dust
clutches at that wide sunset
and returns burnt and blind,
drops memories like pins
along the trail
where the black bear might have crossed
joins wind on a high outcropping
swirls my daughters’ hair
crosses the snowy paths
where human tracks disappear
the tracks where the wolf hesitates
and turns away,
that strokes the shape
within driftwood
brushes along the guitar’s strings
like an echo
holds starlight
in a vastness of pines
holds itself aloft above flame
rises as smoke to the canopy
stirs the raven’s wing
falls as a pinecone from
the golden tamarack branch
falls as a muffled voice
a black feather
back to the forest floor.

by Lane Henson

 

Editor’s Note: This poem’s lush imagery invites the reader to cast aside any preoccupation with grammar and instead let the emotional narrative carry you into the woods.