If I speak your name the way
it is written
on the memorial,
I’ll go mad.
Not because I cannot fathom
your goneness
or bear to look
your mother in the face,
but because our vowels
cry out the same.
Because we are branches
of the same dirty river.

I survived.
And you did not.
Our shared blood
makes us both guilty.

This night is an open hand,
empty of you.
All its dead planets,
stark as the tracks
in your arms.
Its silvered needles traded
for a million tiny stars
no less sharp.

Outside it is wind and wind
and I dare not linger
in the dark very long.

Inside it is darkest,
a paper forest
that walls us in.

Inside the lights go out
and out
and out.

Cynthia Lynn Hopson Widner
07/01/1975 – 07/13/2014

From the second-floor window,
this place is a tragic country.
A city of tepid walls,
same as the whites of my eyes.

—-

A line of traffic appears as tribute.
A funeral.
Important and somber.
A slow crawl past something breathless
and unseen.

—-

The asphalt clutches its orphans.
Limbs and leaves from yesterday’s storm.
The mulch, flung wild from its quiet post.
We never lost power,
even when the roof blew off
the hotel down the street.
We heard fire trucks screaming down Watauga
and I kissed you as a reminder
to be grateful
that nothing is permanent.
Not the roiling black sky.
Not the cracks in the sidewalk.
Not even my own tired body,
the heaviest load I carry.

——-

They’re going to cut my throat in the fall,
take something I need
but must learn to live without.
But we are all learning,
waiting by windows.
Pushing our boundary of loss
further from its bloodless origin.

——

It is raining on the starless mountain.
A deer goes over the cliff.
Cruelty is met with silence.
The earth does not mourn
the way we do.

A garden of wounds,
burst through its sway-fenced seams.
Deep green water three days a week.
Blazing dawn oranges in hand.
Pale dusk and the look of faces.
The danger of hunger.
The riptide of circumstance.
Seated work, standing work.
Love and all its rapturous ache.
All its backbreaking tenderness.
The things I shift to carry better.
The things I’ve come to know
beneath such an intimate ruin.
Such careful hope despite
a thousand tiny deaths
whispered in the heat
of a day’s stretched murmur.


Stand and hold the dog by the hips,
tell her you’ve got her.
Tell her she’s a thousand ways better
in this water, which is only green
because the trees hang silent above it.
Only deep because it is summer.


And everything is deep now.


So I let go.
Walk into the water.
Breathe deep.
Swim.

I’ve gotten a lot of love from you guys lately and just wanted to say thank you. I’ve not been on much due to my dog rupturing both ACLs. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and love to heal something like this. We’re working on it. I’ll leave you with a happy pic of Abby and me at the lake. Swimming is the best rehab for injured joints. Thank you so much for your ceaseless support, it means so much. Love and good vibes from Abby and me!

Morning’s new fur,
kindling for love.

Morning’s constitutional:
Be brave. Be brave today.

On my cooling walls,
a crow speaks.
Morning’s shifting shapes.
Morning’s weightless bond.

The breaking apart
of night’s dark distress
has everything to do
with a lonely sun’s rising.

Morning waits
for the sake of waiting.
The holiest of beggars.
A slivered mouth of sky
that fits perfectly
my rounded bones.

1.

It is night beneath
a wrong-colored sky.
Combed by treeless thunder.
Raked raw and winded.

2.

Funnels drop and lift
at the edge of the city.
Green-gray spiders
with wispy bellies.
We wait for the sirens
but they never come.

3.

Lame dog shudders,
same as windows.
Licks the shine of the light
on the floor.
Blue light, quick and threatening.
The thick heat stays too long
in the margins of dusk.

4.

Rain soaked.
Storm clawed.
Suffocating darkness.
We hide
and forget to breathe.

5.

The light is gone.
Stolen and replaced
with some new thing
we haven’t tasted.
Tighter. Closer.
Less than safety.
More than warning.

6.

A sweeping, languid wave
against which
we can no longer hold.

The mountain is God.
A tongueless blue quiet
out the back door.

The tree is a fleshy woman.
Green with summer.
Watches me through
the window.

The train is a dry fish,
whistle throated.
Cursed to roll
forever.

The blackberries are pleased
with their own roundness.

I am a swimmer.
I always breathe
on the third stroke.

There is always water.

The sun is an old woman
clad in pink
every morning.

The moon is a grinning man
who waves goodbye but
never hello.

The train is a wolf
who scatters the bones
with his howling.

He takes what is his.

He leaves a mess of fields
and doors.

Red-painted ghosts who whisper.

Murmurs left alive
in my blood.

as I lay with
stitches in my belly,
hips jutting upward
beneath the blanket,
yellow with drought and
starved of sky,

you were the one
who suffered
the worst of it.

Watching my clothes
and skin grow looser
by the day.
Tracing the marred purple
of failed veins
in my arms and hands.
Waiting by the window
for the snow to break
the sickness.

You were a cabinet full
of remedies.
A doctor of hearts.
A turning wheel
of prayer.
Half-drunk cups of
ginger tea and
countless hours
spent listening
to the dark
as it whispered

what is left of her?

Old witness.
Blood-throated swimmer.
Pendulum, pendulum,
I call you.
Mother, sentry,
I call you.
Sayer, seer,
I call you.
Bring me your flocks,
your rain-fed body.
Your silvered pastures,
your winded stars.
Your fever-song love
that ticks like rain
on the lid
of my coffin.
Tie back my thicket arms.
Burn the thorns
of my father.
Paint me on buildings,
deep white letters
that fear nothing,
that fear nothing.
Pendulum, pendulum,
mighty stricken river.
Sister.
Brother.
I call you.

Three o’clock at the ocean is
an endless waving mirror.
In which we do not see
ourselves.
In which we are
a moon-culled watersong.
A warm and different kind
of tundra.
In which we are
learning again to speak
the language taken
from our wild-girl mouths.
Wild-girl Georgia hair that
I learned to wrap around
my fingers
that day.
Learned to steal
open-mouthed kisses behind
the tallest water
that day.
On the pier we were
a rhythm of nights stranded
hip to hip
on a bone-dry shore.
On the pier we were
green-algae eyes with
one burning question
begging to be left
unasked.