The Grief Committee
The black racer you remember played dead
in the dollarweed, holding the secret of his life
as you approached, or hid in the loropetalum
you pruned each spring, as part of your normal yard upkeep—
he’ll be there, as will the Carolina chickadees
you’d see each fall at the feeder, caching their thousands of seeds
for winter in cavities of bark and tree. Don’t forget
the lowly millipedes curled up on the porch—
the ones you swept away, time after time,
yet they crawled back, predictably—
an inconvenience, but what would life be
without them, scavenging decay in spaces you’ll never go—
under logs, for example, or beneath the damp lawn thatch.
All your precious Labradors will retrieve their leashes,
tethering strong bodies to you once again.
Other friends, of course, and family will be present
in each beating heart and memory preserved
in the guest book. The young, red-shouldered hawk
you’ll know by her muted feathers, a fixture
on the post where she always perches,
scans the scene of her last kill.
She’ll fly in. In space, you’ll know to listen
for our grief committee chairs, the sandhill cranes,
who see it all and call the meeting,
arrange tables for the lost, the newly bereaved—
in a sky of white cloths, with your mother’s silver,
gardenias for a centerpiece. They’ll bugle their flock
of mourners for you, setting every place.
Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Five Points, Sugar House Review, Florida Review, Redivider, River Heron Review, Split Rock Review, Atlanta Review and elsewhere. Her book reviews have appeared recently in Salamander, EcoTheo Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and the Los Angeles Review. Sarah's poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Orison Anthology. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, including Accommodations (2019), winner of the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award, and The Heart Contracts (2016, Finishing Line Press.) She lives and works in Gainesville, Florida.