The Missouri Review and textBOX are delighted to announce the winners of the Art of Omission contest. We asked entrants to compose a short short or poem of 50 words or fewer using only the words contained in an excerpt from Reesa Grushka’s essay “Arieh.” From the 68 entries received, we…
On days where the wind licks my neck like the neighbor’s dog, all nape and nurture, you blaze through my mind like tongues of lightning scalding my skin with their sheer force. I can see the last image of your face so clearly, as if you have not been gone for three years, as if you are still just a car ride or a call away. You told me, “I’m sure I’ll see you soon,” and if I had known how false that statement was, I would have told you to not move. On nights when the moon hangs above the trees, my heart grows teeth and gnaws at my insides as if nothing within can satisfy the emptiness. I hear your laughter in your sister’s voice. Your son has your blue blue eyes. Sometimes he asks when you’re coming back. I tell him you never left, but one day he’ll start asking for more.
I have lost my religion, but all I can do is become drunk off this rebellion like a dancing dervish spinning from infatuation with the Beloved. I have swallowed down sins that have made me breathe fire. No amount of holy water can baptize this body into a confessional. There is an acceptance in the way the wind winds itself against my neck, without wrapping her fingers around my jugular to strangle me. I thought I knew what prayer was once. My eyes would follow my mother’s form as she whispered into her palms, her own eyes closed, body rocking slowly. There was a conversation taking place that I was not a part of. When bruises bloomed beneath her skin like ink of an octopus against the surface of ocean, I wondered who had stopped listening first – what soil did her words choose to bury themselves beneath? Some days I wish to reclaim all that has been taken from me. But I don’t know where to go or who to ask to fulfill my longing to belong. So I sit by the water and wait for dusk to descend, letting my gaze shift from the light of the convulsing sun to the shadows leaning against tree bark. There is a thirst that crawls in my belly and intoxicated on solitude,
I drink my desperation up and beg the sky to shelter me like a prodigal son who doesn’t want to return home just yet.