Death’s Secrets like a Box
A box of dried flowers, death’s secret:
crab apple crinkles to powder, lavender—
broken—betokens no grace. But her simples
are simple. And the moon’s face in water
breaking. And breaking again. Telling a story
of how nothing—ever—stays, even this blank
night with its scald of cold, her blue fingers.
And what would she say, gone beyond
the worst? Every death suffused with neither
a quiet nimbus nor the fog’s persistence
on how sight is never clear. She saw. Saw
her mind like ravens over a battlefield.
And that was enough.
This selection comes from the poetry book, available from University Press of Colorado. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.
Gillian Cummings is the author of The Owl was a Baker’s Daughter, selected by John Yau as the winner of the 2018 Colorado Prize for Poetry (The Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University, 2018) and My Dim Aviary, winner of the 2015 Hudson Prize (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). She has also written three chapbooks: Ophelia (dancing girl press, 2016), Petals as an Offering in Darkness (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Spirits of the Humid Cloud (dancing girl press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, The Colorado Review, The Crab Orchard Review, The Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, The Journal, The Laurel Review, Linebreak, The Massachusetts Review, The New Orleans Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, in other journals and in two anthologies. In 2008, she was awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund Poetry Prize. A graduate of Stony Brook University (BA, English) and of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program, Gillian lives in Westchester County, New York, where for five years she taught poetry workshops to women at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is currently at work on a novel and a third collection of poetry. She also draws botanical still lifes and occasional other subjects, and is currently seeking out professional training in the visual arts.
Nilsa Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. Nilsa’s work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her husband, son, and other multi-species family members.