A gathering of young cousins is called a pile. It’s not a reunion without aunts and dead uncles. Oak leaves from the same root share a shape, a half-acre, innumerate shades. They play volleyball across a white rope tying two eastern hemlocks. In the cemetery, paper plates become bases. Fingertips and loose fists, static, hair in the eye. A pile, growing.
At a reunion, aunts flit around, scooping limp green beans and macaroni salad into compartment foam plates. Nothing and no one touches. Uncles roll joints, discuss old girlfriends, dismiss the mill closing before Christmas. Elbows and tight fists. A gathering of dead uncles is called a reverie. It’s not a daydream if you must suspend all disbelief.
Saved Message #3
I bet everyone says This is weird because saying a thing makes it. Can you hear me? Your first puppy’s name. Snowball. Falling out of the honey locust without cuts. Your brother unthreading his throat. Help. The green of a fading bruise. Please. Second story window panes crumbling into ash. Can you hear me? Carbon particulate. Two grandchildren. Repeated dreams. Fifteen years. I think. That’s why I called you. And your brother. I want to confirm you’re alive. And to speak. To you each. Can you hear me? Hello? It’s Mom. The nurse is coming.
Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, writing poems, telling stories, drinking more coffee than might seem wise. His chapbook SAGITTARIUS A* will be published in 2020 by Sibling Rivalry Press. He is a poetry reader for Flypaper Lit. His other work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in The Cortland Review, DIAGRAM, Bending Genres Journal, Okay Donkey, Theta Wave, Screen Door Review, Homology Lit, Pidgeonholes, Glass: A Journal of Poetry and many more. You can read more at https://benklineonline.wordpress.com/. Image by David Ohmer