Carol Ellis

First Line
by Carol Ellis

I forgot the first line – it was strong and taut – strung between two trees – covered in clothespins and, at times, birds – a bad idea perhaps to hang a line near birds – envision an empty white shirt with the wind shaping it with wind’s breath – making sense of clothes – the way they look like a body – the way a body suddenly needs new clothes – suddenly because the world turns happy or because only a white shirt will do on the plane flying to her loss and I cannot wear black all the time these days and nights, in fact I have three closets and one is filled with my black clothes – the crying closet – dark when the door opens – clothes difficult to tell apart, but ready for the inevitable news of the end of a story – all the other times life almost ended, but for the facts that the truck did not hit hard enough or she was next but the soldiers heard the lunch bell and were hungry enough to leave her standing against the wall or suddenly the medication takes while the leaves and fever turn – the tree bends but stands – old at the corner of the yard that this autumn has orange berries among the branches empty all summer of leaves – the clothesline tugging at it – wanting nothing of life, but to hold clothes or birds would give it reason just as well – but I have lost the line that last night began the poem – the clothes lie on the ground where I have thrown them – I miss her miss her and feel again that I lean against loneliness and wear an empty shirt – as someone readies to leave and I open the closet door to see the clothes and nothing else – nothing – the everything of nothing come again for birds and their inevitable flight.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Carol Ellis

Carol Ellis was born in Detroit, Michigan, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. She’s been around the academic block with her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. Her poetry chapbook, “I Want A Job,” has been published by Finishing Line Press.

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