Orpheus, Ascending
by M.K. Foster

out of the underworld, doesn’t yet know it’s only ever been in his nature
to, looking back, lose everything: maybe what we know of love is not
unlike what we know of death. Even now, years after, my grandmother
still wears her dead husband’s clothes around their house, drapes herself

in faded golf shirts twice her size to garden or sleep. She says they still smell
like him,
tells me about the handgun she keeps under the pillow on once-his
side of their bed, —things I think about when you take my hand and help me
into your bathtub to smoke cigarettes through the cinderblock window hole

in the wall. We breathe out standing in a wintered dark blacker than burned
animal skin, flick our ashes like dead stars into the standing water of the sink,
and I won’t say what I’m thinking there, won’t tell you this is how I want you
when I’m with you,
but maybe later. And if later, then only this: Listen to me,

from here, there is no way back for either of us—turning away will always feel the way
burning sounds.
No,—not even that. This: I love you the way suicide loves porcelain.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 4.

M.K. FosterM.K. Foster’s poetry won the 2013 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize and has been recognized with an Academy of American Poets Prize. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park and currently pursues a Ph.D.

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