In Situ

By Ellen Kartchner Gregory

In the valley between bone and bone
where my children stretched awake
and where a silent, sudden roll, a tumbling,
would slide into comfort again,
their movements, their proximity
made me safe.

So, when, in a recent nightmare, I glanced over
and my toddler was sinking through murky water
a boat’s length away,
hands reaching above his head, eyes wide, bubbles—

and, the next week, when my teenager collapsed
in the quiet of church services—
someone grabbing my shoulder to make me turn—
his face pasty, head heavy and
him not anywhere nearby—

I’ve slid that thin slope down, and down, down;
slight traction, nervous:

and if you think shale is equal to
days of stifling heat
and days in which the cold grips itself
down into whichever crack it can,

you would find, bleakly enough, it is
its own only possible answer
to the southeastern wind
which will blow.

About Ellen Kartchner Gregory

Ellen Kartchner Gregory was born and raised in southeastern Arizona. She now lives with her husband and their five children in southeastern Idaho, where they garden, cook, eat, and hike.

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