Dear Melody

The stage too can be a disguise. The light catches
the glittered bow in your hair and the auditorium

is all sparkle, no shadow. But everyone knows that
shadow is where the living happens. Where loss cuts

its teeth on our lungs. The acupuncturist who lives
down the street says our lungs are organs of grief:

If we slice them open we will find years of damp
growth, fiddleheads rooting themselves around

the bronchioles. Is this why we find it so difficult
to breathe when bad news comes: your mother

disappeared like a nightlight snapping off; the air
thickened around you. Now you curl up each night

under a quilt she loved, sneak a length of flannel
from beneath the mattress. This is the first secret

you’ve ever kept, her favorite pajama pants slipped
out of the dresser before your dad forced himself

to take inventory of his sadness. Her scent is long
gone but you are still grateful. Tonight your mouth

opens on stage, one more set of crooked teeth.
You sing a pop song with everyone else but inside

your lungs are dark rooms filled with ferns.

Bunting PhotoRachel Bunting lives and writes in Southern New Jersey between the Delaware River and the Pine Barrens. Her poems can be found in online and print journals including Weave Magazine, PANK and Linebreak. She is currently at work on a full-length manuscript. Her roller derby name, if she played, would be The Hammer Fist.