You High-Step, Dale Champlin

Charles Hood, Breeding Plumage


You High-Step


as if you can walk on water.
I see you wade into the brine
but you don’t return with the tide.

During the night, grief dreams
give me nothing to hold on to.
Morning comes back unbroken—
smelling of salt and whale.

What surprise when the mortician
hands me the zip-lock bag.

I hadn’t anticipated
the shifting weight—a riff
like fortuneteller’s runes,
some bits wafer thin as the host—
a sift of rough grit a crow
might swallow to aid digestion.

My fingers sieve bones
smooth as soap in my hands.

You have always been here before.

“Oh!” I say and “Oh!” again
surprised by a sudden shock.

You can no longer hear me—
I am inconsequential to you as air.

Dale Champlin


Review by Debra Kaufman

A lovely poem of grief. I especially liked the bits of bone “wafer thin as the host,” which echoes the opening line of walking on water, as Christ was alleged to do. The spirit of the loved one has “always been here before” yet cannot hear the speaker, is beyond the speaker’s grief, which to the departed, feels “inconsequential,” the survivor left to mourn alone.

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