* * *
Yesterday, the clouds hung like velvet.
upon the gold leafed tree
and clattered rusty cries.
With a silent signal, they burst
into the sky. The flock swirled
as it moved to another tree.
The effect was dazzling but
melancholy seized me.
When my cousin died,
her ribs and femurs
were harvested for donation.
Her body was so
reduced that the undertaker
suggested a closed casket.
Some of my insides
are also missing.
One day, they brought me a young boy
with a gunshot wound.
I cradled his head as we attempted
resuscitation. When I declared him
dead, I let go and realized his
brain was all over my fingers.
It is no small thing to have
a boy’s brain upon your hands, so
I resolved to remember his name.
Days later, as I folded laundry,
it occurred to me that it was
too easy to forget a boy’s name,
even if his brain recently
stained my gloves.
When I carry their stories in my
I need to remember their names.
Today, the sky wears
winter’s hard edge.
Hunchbacked buzzards encircle
a carcass and tear into flesh.
They do not even raise
their heads when I pass.
* * *
Rachel Mallalieu is an emergency physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. Her recent work is featured or forthcoming in Blood and Thunder, Haunted Waters Press, Pulse, Nelle, Global Poemic, Construction, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Rattle.