Salt March

by Rowan Brown

It is customary to hold the dead on the tip of the tongue
Prestige like whiskey.
Regard like cinnamon.
Your children, two cough drops.
Your tattoo, an apple core.
I started my walk home
from the red doors
near the stoplight,
(where I substituted “windswept” for “disheveled.”)
I pushed the button to cross the street with my thumb,
and that tore the lacerations on my hands open again.
They were just starting to scab over.
It was to cold to cry,
so I held back,
and kept walking.
Sea salt filled my mouth
big chunks
large granules
All gravitating towards internal orthodontia scars.
Salt in the form
of friends and lovers and possessive miracles,
all born out of the blue-brown riverbank
only to be washed away
with the rest of glacial silt and unanswered phone calls.
And I remembered
I’m still here,
writing my barefooted poems.

An indictment of vulnerability,
I pad along the sidewalk
and the salt comes back
in the form the matching silverware silverspoon
that I know won’t be there forever.
I spit out the final grains of salt
And wipe away
the chinese takeout egg soup strands,
Everything dropping in falsified slow motion
While the clouds overhead move faster than usual
(I’m sure it’s just the wind.)
The last rocky grains is for my own lack of satori.
I do not accept that you are leaving.
I could accept that you had left,or that you will not leave
but this indefinite impermanence
is cutting into my palms and shoulders
and I become a vibrating pre-shattered form of stagnation.
I can only imagine what it’s doing to you if
I stand here fermented and burned
like a persimmon tree in winter beside an electric fence
Except fruit,
Fruit when it falls against the wire,
bubbles, sinks
loses form and melts.
Whereas I
am charring.
A wedge is taken out of my thigh,
a wedge is taken out of my back.
Each gap is is seared neatly,
Just nicking the bone.
Scar tissue
Medium rare
Only the edges turn to soot and crumble.
I come to the other side of the street.
There’s a gatorade bottle tucked in between wysteria.
Salt, my memento mori.
A fleck of ash floats up and is placed gently behind my front teeth.

Author Bio: Rowan Brown is a freshman at the Fine Arts Center in upstate South Carolina. Her most recent publications include the Creative Communications Young Writers Anthology and 1over8 magazine. She is an avid participant in FIRST robotics and will be attending the World Championship for the third time this spring.