Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

someone whose name rhymes with italics by Natalye Childress

the face of a woman with blue hair

for alex tretbar.
       grief: from the latin gravis, “heavy, grievous, sad.”

i became acquainted with a new shape of
grief and i don’t know how to hold it in such
a small space. i tried to put it in my pocket,
but it’s a can’t-be-contained grief. i tried to
fold it into a paper crane, a flower, but it’s not
a valley-mountain-inside-outside-reverse grief.
i tried to take deep breaths, pushing it down
into my bronchioli, but it’s a carbon dioxide grief, a
dissolving-in-my-tears-pushing-the-air-out-of-me grief.

this grief is bold and relentless, metastasizing. it’s a
sequestering grief, traveling through capillaries to
underline in blood how alone i am. and until i met
someone whose name rhymes with italics, i thought
my grief was a body of water and i, a tender
anchored to its whim. but he thinks my grief is
emphasis, that maybe it’s trying to tell me something.

we’re constructing a shared vocabulary,
piecing our pain — once lived and being lived
— into semblances of sentences, like magnetic
poetry on a fridge, or tiles on a scrabble board.

someone whose name rhymes with calyx is a
whorl, wrapping around me. his petals like hands,
keeping me upright as i take root in a foreign
terrain. he is showing me: that hardship begets
growth. that pain can’t be edited off the page.
that solitary doesn’t have to mean alone.

it’s a kindness he offers, though his debts aren’t to
me. he has real worries, like a ringing in his ears,
and a warm blanket he can’t afford to slip under.

       and yet, he’s slicing at spaces
       between the pendulum swings,
       fashioning a crude vessel
       where i can place my overflow

Natalye Childress (she/her) is a Berlin-based editor, writer, and translator. She has an MA in creative writing, and her first book, The Aftermath of Forever, was published by Microcosm Publishing in 2014. Find her at https://www.natalye.com

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