OLD GRIEF by Sean Kelbley


Someday you’ll glance at bare-branched trees
and not think veins, and in those trees

the squirrels’ ragged nests will not be clots.
Above, the wispy cirrus clouds will look

like clouds and not at all like strands of lost
and drifting hair. It will be the same, in time,

with taste and touch and smell: senses
apprehending too-done steak, pilled Army blanket,

rained-out fire as only and exactly
what they are. Then dawn will dawn

as dawn instead of shiv, instead of even
dull and rusted butterknife, and you’ll forget

to wear an albatross to breakfast.
Which day? I’m sorry,

but it has to be a missed surprise,
unrealized until next morning

or a month of mornings after that—
whichever day some hungry disremembered

correspondence comes to table,
looking for a place you didn’t set.


Sean Kelbley lives on a farm in Appalachian Ohio and works as a primary school counselor. In addition to ONE ART, his poetry has appeared in Rattle, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Still: The Journal, Sugar House Review, and other wonderful journals and anthologies.

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