By MIKKI ARONOFF.
What Clings 1.
You lay in the same damp grass that caught the thud-thud-thud of an osage orange no longer able to cling. You caught its claggy heft, turned it round and round, rubbing the gash, sticky from its first hard hit onto pavement. From a nearby field, milkweed silk flew to your fingers, clung there as the green globe struggled to clot its chalk-white sap, to stretch its stubbly hairs and latch the edges of its wound. You rose, held it to your ear as it pled to be rolled in clover, that dew might seal the cut, that it might be whole again. You remember muttering be calm I’ll help you and then smashing it against the nearest rock.
What Clings 2.
He waits, rocking in your attic closet, patient as nurses. He knows you’ll tip-toe in after the house shuts down for the night. He calms to your creaky sounds and steady breath that complete the closet’s accommodations — its wind-up Victrola, mothballs and sweaters in steamer trunks, the stairway that spirals into dreams. Old photographs. A Grandfather clock. You feel the press of his spindly arms, the carved bone buttons on his woolly jacket, his pocket watch. You drift into a sweet smell of tobacco, hear the thump of his heart. This pleases him immensely. No ghost wants to be dead.
What Clings 3.
Those who know point out the vertical shimmer that silvers pebbles smoothed by the stream, tell you she’s Astarte. A rare visitation. How very lucky you are. Indeed. To see this spirit at this time. But you’ve already lost the length and breadth of the encounter; you don’t know who Astarte is and are too embarrassed to ask. You nod anyway. Your ignorance chips away at the moment, cleaves you to the sandy bank. Years pass, years of birthdays and burials, of making lime marmalade and taking glass to the dump. But you never thought to look up her name when a dictionary was at hand. And now the internet is everywhere, but it’s the recipe for the Best Black Bean Soup Ever you remember to print off.
Mikki Aronoff’s work has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, EastLit, Virga, Love’s Executive Order, bosque9, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, SurVision, Rogue Agent Journal, London Reader, Popshot Quarterly, Global Poemic and elsewhere. A New Mexico poet and Pushcart-prize nominee, she is also involved in animal advocacy.