In the week after my sister died
Following a day spent needlessly driving and throwing candy
From the window onto passing graves lining the highway
My brother James took me to a taco bell and watched heavily
As my fourteen-year-old mouth cradled a steak tortilla.
When the employee with a goatee and sweat on his breath
Who had spent the past hour telling sexist jokes and expecting for
Our laughter, which didn’t come, followed us back to James’s car,
A box cutter in his hand, James silently opened the trunk and displayed the rifle
Lying in plain view. I watched as he ran his finger
Over its silver outline, like he was stroking a mare’s back,
Before mounting it. The man with the boxcutter
Blinked once, before walking back inside.
It wasn’t a rifle, maybe a baseball bat, I can’t remember right
All I knew was that James then wrapped his arm around my shoulders
And looked at me as if this were my inheritance. As if that gun
Could have brought his wife back. Could have raised my sister
From back out the ground if only it was properly fed.
Ian Powell-Palm is a writer, poet, and musician currently living in Belgrade, Montana. His work attempts to interrogate familial trauma, sexual identity, and the resurrection of the dead. You can read more of his poetry on Facebook at “Powell-Palm Poetry”.