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Image by Drew Lindsley


the madrigal, volume v

Instructions on Loss (Riverview Road)

by joseph boyle

You must cover your grief in seven inches of fresh powder,
roll it over in your Snowcat in blue hours before dawn
so it has that rippled, corduroy shine
and carve, schussing diagonal over the low brow
of the hill, allowing stainless steel edges
to fight gravity and the accumulation of ice in your chest
over many years before you are frozen out

You must take a drag and pretend
not to notice concern on the face beside you,
over salisbury steak, rice pilaf,
the iceberg salad and tea lights,
the endless nights laid out before you
prone on the bed in white cotton boxer shorts

You will be soft
and so was the night you held to
the patter of rain on leaves and lovely stuff like that,
the hurting time, across weeks and tables,
greying hair, the childhood bed and the unfamiliar
geography of your wife’s body

You’ll sleep, waiting for your own birth,
the warp of wood around him
shaking hands, remembering who you love
remembering his cough in crowded rooms,
lying still, turning green,
tar macadam slowly fracturing on a hillside of ice

You will sit and wait for your ride to end
as the car slows and gravity reaches out to hold you,
the bumper of the Toyota in front of you lit
by the screaming headlight, your cursing father
in the snow, and purple night
settling on dim fingers, the dead marsh by Riverview Rd

Joseph Boyle lives in Sacramento, California, with his partner and a pair of tiny dogs. He works as a counselor and spends his free time metabolizing sugars and admiring the way wind moves through trees. He has been published in Lemon Peel Press, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Inksounds, The Stony Thursday Book, The Ekphrastic Review, and others.

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