A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Ruth Foley

lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College.

Her recent work is appearing or forthcoming in Adanna, The Bellingham Review, Yemassee, and Weave, among others.

She also serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

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I want to say that the sky clouded over
without you, that the world sealed to echo
our grief. But it didn’t happen that way. Last
winter, the sky stayed open for months,
snow piled on snow in Boston until the mayor
ordered it pushed into the river to make room
for more. You stayed trapped inside, the air
cold enough, it seemed, to shatter your brittle
lungs. You could have paced like a caged
ocelot, unhappy behind glass, but you
opened another book instead, turning pages
until you grew tired enough to sleep.
And this year, the clouds refuse to cover
us—everything too bright, the edges
shard-sharp in the unforgiving afternoons.
We talk about seeing you in dreams, Jed
saying he realized, asleep, that you were
there and hung onto you as the dream-world
started spinning and tilting with him clutching
your shoulders until he woke up curled
in the comforter, wrapped so tight he
couldn’t move, and the sun cutting through
the windows in the bedroom, slicing
the morning the way it sliced the world,
the part with you in it and the part without.



Somewhere inside he hears you knock and
says he doesn’t want to eat. He is committed
to his mirror. He is committed to his unbecoming.
A Corona sits warm on the counter, a lime
shrinking into itself and softening to black,

like him, a cloud of fruit flies floating,
dark dandelion seeds on an unseen wind.
Inside, there is famine. He has stopped buying
food he doesn’t eat. He has stopped drinking wine.
Somewhere inside he hears you knock,

but has stopped everything but waiting for
the mendacious flake, the sharp line of snow.
Waiting is everything. Waiting is his slow
torture. He can feel its bitter aftertaste. He
says he doesn’t want to eat. He is committed

to nothing but time’s slide along his spine,
in the back of his throat. He is teaching himself
a patient waiting. His copper-coated tongue
is thickening and hazardous on his lips. He is locked
to his mirror. He is committed to his unbecoming.

Sound means nothing. He has forgotten any words
but blame. He has forged a new language
for responsibility. If you think you can find the one
sentence he needs to hear from you, you are mistaken.
A Corona sits warm on the counter, a lime

skimmed with mold. We will find it later, after
he has stopped answering, after he makes
you climb through the window to beg him
to eat. After he has become what no longer waits,
shrinking into itself and softening to black.