Move the photo closer,
that I might see the look
of discontent. A skeletal sky
dressed in funeral colors. Does Vienna
play chess in the background?
O, joy, mother, these trees
grow pure bombs in the fall,
and by October, we can fill
our mouths with grit.
Don’t ask me why my descent
was silent, why I never looked
into the face of hell as I climbed down
your name. The heat below the Earth
was cooler to the touch
than developers’ chemicals.
It sustained me. As I thought of you,
my arms ceased their function.
The night is still now. The mice
hold court in the kitchen, skittering your name.
Hell turns itself over and empties into the world.
July Westhale has been awarded grants and residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, the Lambda Literary Foundation, Sewanee, Tomales Bay, Dickinson House, Tin House and Bread Loaf. She has been nominated for Best New Poets, the Pushcart Prize, and the Best of the Net. She was the finalist for the 2015 Crab Orchard Poetry Series Prize, and the Creative Writing Fulbright. Her poetry has most recently been published in Thin Noon, Adrienne, burntdistrict, Eleven Eleven, Sugar Mule, The East Bay Review, 580 Split, Quarterly West, and PRISM International. She has an MFA in Poetry from Lesley University. julywesthale.com