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Joy Castro

A Vertical Climb

to eight thousand feet is what you requested,
your voice a crackle in the cold, black night.
Rime ice lined the wings, changing
the very shape of flight.  Spearing
steeper, higher, faster,
you broke through
clouds to cruise
while the world watched
disaster on the ground.
So smooth, you flew. 
No one in the quiet cabin
knew what you’d eluded, your craft
so light, and carrying such life.



Chicken Sandwich, Alone, Café

I’m sorry for the fowl,
crammed and fattening in their pens
until death do them part.

Yet how delicious. 
The air cool, strangers
passing, warm food in my mouth.

I’m sorry what we had
went south.

I’m sorry for the foul
rag and bone
shop of my heart

and for the way
I took my waking slow

sorry that for so long
I didn’t know
I’d sacrifice such a pretty pen
to my one art.




What I have told no one—
and I have told, now, so much—
is the rainbow
because who would believe it?
And who would believe it of me?

You were dead five weeks,
and I was with strangers—
a lodge by a lake,
the woods, a conference
I couldn’t get out of.  No one there knew.

Alone, states away,
you had blown out your brains
in your Chevy, my father,
alone, lost, believing
there was no way back to the world.

But that’s a story I’ve told.
Not this.  It has lain for years between me and thee: 
how there, in the pine-pillared hall, with its soft
fireplace inferno, and the easy voices of strangers
around me, someone casually dropped the word Dad,

and I suddenly choked on my heart.  My feet hustled
me out into the rain to weep alone
—proud and silent, your daughter
to the bone, our multiple losses
suffered, not shown.

Who would believe my caught throat
met wreaths of brilliance, a curved sky rinsed
with hues so bright, my eyes seared
and tearing with beautiful,
crazy, arcing light—

that promise God gave
not to destroy his beloved ones
the same way twice.