What Do You Know About the Equivocation

of Loss In Your Cells?

I name my lover

Who left

My friend who’s mind

Got lost

How candy became fancy

After finances changed.


Still, in all that specificity

You heard grief spill through 

My teeth

The first time I said

butter or that’s true.

We haven’t named it all correctly.


There’s a vague glory in the details

How you clutch to tragedy’s naming of things

As you did to Joe the Dog, or your stuffed-


Bunny, who was just Molly, 

before you burned her paw

On your father’s red-hot stove,

Now, Stove-Top-Molly.

As children, 

were we all urgent curiosity

And correctness?


You remember, or perhaps remember the telling – 

your little hand, clutching Molly’s small paw,

The drying chilis strung from the ceiling, 

the sink opposite. How maybe you stood on tip-toes? 

How maybe you were stove-height by then?


You remember a specific fast moment

Of the burning and then these disjointed moments

After. The rage-fear-punishment of reaction.


You changed her name to command specificity

As you were told to do with all things

regret, loss, shame. You buttoned up

What could have been such a different story.

What really happened when you burned Molly’s paw?


He had just left, moved house, the concrete

You could substantiate with flat-palmed touch

Was questionable and crumbling. The bunk bed,

The familiarity of his roommate’s baritone

Voice, the cow next door, the routine of travel

Up the road almost to the mountain

All crumbling.


I can still find evidence of your shedding cells

flaking forgiveness, suffused and sticky.

Althea Seloover, 2020