This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Stephanie Erdman, is from The Book of Crooked Prayer by Marcella Remund, released by Finishing Line Press in 2020.
Content warning for suicide, vivid description of suicide
Supplication to the Suicides
You will wake up tomorrow and the sun will be up.
Stores will open. Some idiot will forget to signal
his turn. There will be dishes to do. You’ll get a job
offer in Big Sky, Montana.
This will all get easier. Then it will get harder
again. Then it will get easier again.
That girl you love will leave her next boyfriend too.
Your mother is canning peaches right now.
She will need you here to eat them.
The pain you feel now comes from a cauldron
of teenage chemicals swirling through you like bad
soup, like toxic river water, like grain alcohol, like Drano.
It will eventually push through your system, and you will
be able to laugh and think straight again.
Remember that time I stomped in your house and screamed
in your face and jabbed at you with my finger? I really
wanted to hug you and lock you up and never let you go.
Going to the zoo is almost as much fun at 35 as it is at 13.
It will one day be a mystery to you that you ever felt this bad.
I don’t know if there’s an afterlife. But
what if you have to watch the chain
of sorrows you leave behind?
The belt will burn and cut into your neck. The pain
will be unbearable before you black out.
You’ll pee your pants.
You’ll change your mind.
You won’t be able to stop it.
I love the way your hair flips to the side, and the way
you look sideways when you grin, and the way
my youngest son’s heart opens up around you.
That girl you love will end up with four kids from three fathers.
She’ll work at Walmart and live over her parents’ garage.
She’ll try and fail to kick meth. Her kids will be taken away.
That girl you love will end up married to a banker
and will live on a lake and have a housekeeper.
That girl you love will be in therapy for the rest of her life.
That girl you love will use your memory like a crucible
in which she’ll stew future boyfriends and cook up
excuses for sleeping with her future husband’s boss.
After your sister died, your mother stayed alive, in part, for you.
We are only here for a blink anyway. Can’t you wait that long?
My son will have a redheaded child. She’ll skateboard.
She’ll be beautiful and jolly and full of mischief.
He’ll take her to the skatepark in Lennox.
He’ll cry because you’re not there to watch her.
You’re my child. You’re everyone’s child. We will all be broken.
You’ll fall in love again and again and again. You might have twins.
They’ll be skinny and blonde and hold your hand.
You’ll rock them to sleep with Jack Johnson lullabies.
When they’re 15, they’ll say we hate you.
You’ll try to keep a straight face.
Your mother’s smile will be manufactured and hard for the rest of her life.
You are so full of love and light and promise that it burns
our fingers to touch you. We are moths and choose
winglessness over being without you.
My son will carry you like a scar,
like a confession,
like a stone in his gut.
Someone will have to take a picture of your body.
There is nowhere else to go.
Please, please stay.
Marcella Remund is an Omaha, Nebraska native and a transplant to South Dakota, where she taught at the University of South Dakota. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals. Her chapbook, The Sea is My Ugly Twin, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. Her first full-length collection, The Book of Crooked Prayer, was published by Finishing Line in 2020.
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