"Last Rites" by Donna Vorreyer
There was a fox inside her sleep whose howl
frightened the moon and stars to dimming.
I turned on every light, but the room remained
dark, and her bones shivered at the barking.
Startled wrens beat their wings beneath her eyelids.
I could not reach her. I was alone in
everything then. Even her breath went roadkill
rotten and with it so did my heart. A bell
rang, and she could not hear it in her sadness.
The fox appeared at the door with a bone
in its mouth. Her breath a dimming star and me
alone with the dark. I knew I could not keep her,
and my heart was a wren’s unremarkable song.
Your dreaming cracked like a bone in a door.
One night the bells stopped ringing. Now the fox
is a ghost of her, pointed face like the tip
of a heart, tail white as bone. I could not keep her.
Tell me, what moon, what stars could I have conjured,
what light, to brighten all her troubled sleep?
Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress, 2013), as well as eight chapbooks, most recently, The Girl (Porkbelly Press, 2018). Her poems and reviews have appeared in numerous journals, including Waxwing, Rhino, Quarterly West, Poet Lore, Diode, and Sugar House Review.
Headshot: Donna Vorreyer
Photo Credit: Staff