Emily Kerlin

Wasn't it just June
when we met in Wrigleyville
sat outside, so the sun
could kiss you, the cutest
of all the cousins?
I remember, you ordered
the house red. Oh but
I thought you were sober
I didn't say & your eyes laughed,
two bright Caribbean bays.

Now it's February.
Your eyes are dark
lagoons and death swims
close to the surface.
What happened to you
says no one, while
roses sprout like invasives
around your hospital bed
each with a tiny note
we don't have the heart
to read to you.

Your blond curls are clipped
and your skin clings close
to your cheek and jaw,
urine-yellow or cadaver-gray,
depending on the light.
Your gums bleed. Your mouth
is open but you are through
with the work of words.

I was thinking about that day
on the patio, how we joked
about the Cubs and the pigeons,
then laughed about how angry
grandpa would get when we ran
out into the September corn.
The first place you knew of
where you could get so lost
you might never be found.

Emily Kerlin has called the following things home: a black 1984 Mazda GLC, a 13-tatami-mat flat in Japan, a gaff-rigged schooner in Manhattan, a stone home on Lake Michigan, a blue left-zip mummy bag, a trimaran in Micronesia, a ski lodge in Montana and an upstairs apartment near the Baltic coast of Germany. Her current home sits at 728 feet above sea level in Urbana, Illinois where she has been teaching the difference between "chicken" and "kitchen" to English language learners in public schools for the last 20 years. Find her at

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