Melissa Mulvihill

Melissa writes about finding things in places she thought were empty. Her recent poems and essays can be found at the Feminine Collective, Prometheus Dreaming, and The Write Launch. She has work in several Poet’s Haven Digest Anthologies and her Poem, Your Phone Call, appeared in the Blue Nib 2017 Anthology. She’s a frequent contributor at The Blue Nib. 

A Valid Exit

I won’t be dressed in wood or satin
stored in an absurd container
with a lid
pumped full of toxic nonsense
my face painted with
false hopes
my body 
laced with pretty 
little romantic lies.
Reduce me to ashes
bury me in the sky
east of the sun
west of the moon
where there are no days
just untraceable time
and unpronounceable loss.
I’ll be all of the colors
and nothing at all.
Everyone is so certain
they’ve found
a valid exit. 

Everything Hard is Tangled

Old women pace the night
and want endings to be clarifying
but they know that a body
is a thing to be obeyed
not ordered my mechanical time.
They know they cannot live in a 
constant state of refusal
that healed doesn’t mean restored
and that the past is not a morbidly rare
treasure to cling to.
They write of heartbeats
resolutions and collapsing wave functions
and try not to believe 
everything they think
in the graying.
They remember all of the people 
to write down who might be
a dim recollection by next sundown
and then indecipherable
by the dark of night.
They dream when awake
to the calls of the ghosts
of their children
shifting in their sleep. They can
stand to notice lonely things
even when they get up 
for more water at 3 am 
and end up writing this because
they know a body is a thing to be obeyed
and everything hard is tangled. 

On Zillow

Sheltered in that front bedroom, where
issued forth your soft voices on early mornings
and stormness nights and the scent of you lingered 

with the echoes of your voices to 
“knock off the giggling, girls” 
was the quilt I clutched as my first thing to claim. 

Even though it no longer smells of you, 
it mantles me for
fadely times when I don’t know where 

to haven or to haunt. On the basement landing
I wrapped myself in coffee shot 
with Southern Comfort peace

burnt neighborhood leaves
Old Spice, and machine grease in the pockets 
 and along the sleeves

of your jean jacket hanging 
on the third hook. To ease my 
achest brokenly heart 

 I wandered in the attic lost until I found
your boxes of cards and notes 
written to each other

when your memories were buckets rather 
than sieves and nothing 
was indecipherable

or dim or faded like the stars at dawn.
Regret is like existing as half 
of an unclaimed person, unbuilt, 

crumbling for lack of foundation. 
The last of anything is always 
torturous and so permanent. 

I needed something to build 
my grief upon. The coal room sacrificed 
one brick for me. 

During our Touching of everything 
you ever owned
there was deep mourning and light against the dark

on Forrest Sweet where I searched
 for a way to hear
the echoes of my oldful childly intellections 

after the soakly turnest days 
suddenly stilled your
eighty-eight years of hardest love in that house. 

Are the ghosting traces 
of you near enough to hear
my sighful lively whispers of

birthdays past, anniversaries won, 
and summoned pieces 
of my notions that I could ever carry 

all I took in my mourning on Forrest Sweet 
where I often go on Zillow 
to see what I left behind. 


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