Natasha Trethewey


Today, it is not the shape of a bell, though I think of bells sounding

somewhere in the distance as we left you—each sound wave rippling

to the next: the shape of singing. Nor is it round, though round

is an echo: shape of the chamber, the bullet, the hole bored through skin.

It is not, now, the sign you drew across your body, your hands tracing—

again and again—a prayer: Deliver me, Lord, from mine enemies.

And though it haunts me, the shape of loss is not the chalked outline,

simulacrum on the pavement, on the report—an X each place

your life seeped out. Today, the fig tree in winter stopped me.

Limned in snow, the dark tree mimicked its shadow, twinned

branches curving inward, a nest of bones. For a moment I watched

the bright cardinal perch there, then beat its wings in flight.