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Inconsolable Catalog by Mike Dwyer

Devotions for a Week of Mourning by Lori Brack

(a collaborative project in conjunction with the Inconsolable exhibit at Bethel College)

What private rituals you carry in your flesh: scattering seeds, burning, using up and germinating all that comes to hand. You will find a room, some slip of space where flowers speak, where ink sings a lullaby and every undertaking is charged with the voice of fire.

*

I want to burn more, memorial ashes captured in a frame. People need to know how to save themselves, how to ease into a garment of flame.

*

Zinnias glow with incense, inked into air. One hand and then another. Clasping and letting go. In the end, it can be beautiful, but time doesn’t care how we use it up.

*

Desolate gold leaf husk, stark and glittering. Candle sputters a spiked cadence, pungent with grief. She slips into her nightdress trailing its flimsy sleeves: rustle of paper, lost tooth from a dream, chimney smoke rising in one ephemeral column, thunder even farther away than coyote howl at the edge of town.

*

October garden and each leaf holds on. Orb weaver dwindles to husk, her summer web a tattered blur. Trees braid a burning rope that pulls November hand-over-hand, darkness coming on.

*

Newspaper clippings turn yellow, petals snipped from the language of flowers. You press the brittle evidence, ignite one layer, then two. Soot on paper stands in for absent friends.

*

Drift of petals, each silent bloom. You count the lonely clusters, catch a whiff of smoke. Somewhere a woman speaks; her whispers fill silence the way a single sparrow can occupy a room with its need to go.

Lori Brack’s poems have appeared in journals including Mid-American Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Superstition Review, North American Review, The Prose-Poem Project and in the anthologies Begin Again (2011) and To the Stars Through Difficulties (2012). Her chapbook, A Fine Place to See the Sky (2010), is a collaboration with her grandfather’s 1907-1918 Kansas Farming journals and was written as a poetic script for a work of performance art by Ernesto Pujol. Brack teaches writing at Bethany College.

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