In the parable as you dream it the seagull
plucks a single hand
from a beach made of hands,
carries it across the world,
drops it in another sleepy ocean,
then flies back to do it again and again
until one beach sinks below the surface
while the other rises, clamors for the flinching sky.
You're tired of telling yourself not to write
about your dead mother.
You're tired of how the piece of you
you deposited in your mother's coffin
is always in another coffin,
no matter how many
you pry open. Life as you write it
is one proclamation after the next:
I will not, I will not, this is the last
time, no more, one more,
and then you write apple and
your mother appears
hungry on the page, you write
suitcase and she's there, folded into it, you write
she said I could be whatever I wanted
and she whispers into your ear
you will never be anything
but the absence I put inside you.
And you know this is untrue
as much as you know the flesh
rising like bread from your bones,
the words roiling like steam in your lungs.
But the truth is, in the parable
as you dream it,
you are not the seagull,
you are not the ocean, the twitched hands,
you are not even the flinched sky.
You are treading water
describing over and over the water,
and over and over
the water says again.
Todd Dillard's work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including: Split Lip Magazine, Sequestrum, Third Point Press, Sundog Lit, and Best New Poets.