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The Shadow Side

The "you" in this poem is my sister Marsha.


"Here. Use this.”

You thrust a hammer into my hand.

“Break it.”

We’re somewhere. Salisbury Plain? It’s damp

with the kind of cold that pulls the color from your eyes.

Gust after gust thrashes across the anemic grasses.

A murder of ravens lands then flies like black angels, allowing itself to be

tugged by the wind.

“I said, BREAK it!” You shove my hand towards the stone.

You never spoke to me like that when you were alive. So harshly.

So insistent.

The bluestone is the size of a small loaf.

It whimpers. I raise the scintillating, silvery hammer,

strike the rock, and a crack tears open the air.

It can’t be undone.

Fragments fall like petals, crusts, hands parting from prayer.

“See?” you say.

It’s powdery, shimmery, the hidden side of a mirror.

“The stardust in you is in these rocks too.”

There’s something else. I kneel down to take

a better look. The tang of blood triggers a slight gush of saliva.

Fluttering. It’s a hummingbird-sized heart.

A black thorn pierces it so that blood drops

dot the ground.

“It’s time to go,” you say. “You’ve done your part.”

We recede three steps.

Immediately, the ravens alight and peck at the flecks of blood.

“I don’t understand these sacrifices,

but still I must obey, even after death.” You turn away,


a shadow soaking into the grass.

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