Reminders to Live

I pluck rocks
from the street
the valley and the beach
dense mineral clouds
comprised of guilt
that heighten attention
to danger

They sit
like a tiny mountain carcass
in the shape of my mother
in a basket on my back

There’s quartz fused to limestone
sandstone and basalt
and the weight
refuses moderation

I wonder if they will crush my spine
fuse ribbon veins
binding joints to muscle
compressed in cartilage

I wonder if the ground will open up
if the earth will inhale me and my burden
if the rocks will become pulled teeth
to put a palette to grief
and compost my weary body

I wonder if beach bones are mountain bones
are human bones meant to be crushed

I know a child can’t
parent their parents
or build a house with bones
that it’s hard enough
to hold yourself
or keep a reliable home

I know that safety is not a place
fear is not an exit
that I will never sidestep tragedy
by building walls with worry

So tell my mother
I loved her
but I have to
put this burden down
before misery devours me

And tell the child
that sits at the bottom
of my throat
these rocks are bricks
but this isn’t my load
 

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