Ryan Morton

There’s a doorway.
You know it’s the last time.

Standing next to family,
For-sale sign
Brave faces everyone,
Try to smile.
Show some teeth.
Seal the garage
You once dreamt of
Filling with fumes.
Draw in a deep breath,
Take it all:
How the apple tree has not known
New fruit for years; how you forgot
The birdbath until it killed a waxwing; how
You threw your brother down
The concrete porch, made him bleed,
Held him as Ivan & his son,
Cooing to not to cause a scene. 

Sigh it out,
Release your hold on yesterday.
Turn to gather in the car:
One last look,
Even though you watch
Through the rearview mirror
Until you can’t.

Another doorway,
Taller than you’ve ever seen,
Out to summer days.
You do not know this will be the last time.
But still go out,
Watch the unmoving
Building from the edge
Of her driveway,
Take her hand.
Take a mental photo you won’t need:
The wall of rocks
Sewn together with a concrete
Spun in history;
Wonder about the hands
Pulling stones from mountaintops
In the distance, the freezer hiding
A dead bird suspended in song,
Bursting wild & bitter
On the back of your tongue,
You don’t know anything about the pillars
Or the upholstered seat
Where you learned the warmth
Of moonlight or why the dogs in the night
Never stop yearning.
You imagine the roof bristling
With snow under late December skies.
The wildflowers breaking
Open next May
When you believe the softest rains to come.
The dead grass deadening & deadening again
& again & again &

How things won’t change
They can’t,
Nothing ever really does:
The conservation of your matters.

Until you destroy it.
Ruin everything.
Chew up the concrete:
These flaws you can’t stomach, can’t fix.
Flung from the cliff of your heart,
Another child of memory
You can’t give time to.
These scars too deep,
Pull at the threads until they throb.

A high horse rumbles in the distance
Holstering the innocence & grandeur
You will need to survive
This next exile.

Realize you’re the one burning everything,
Just to know you lit the fire.
Pick your memories from the ash.
The fallout won’t all get up your nose
& metastasize into dreams,
Pretend they don’t choke your sleep.
Ellipses of anger,
A cancer folding in your lungs.

Go ahead,
Do your best
& cough up those tumors.

Ryan Morton is a fourth-year from St. Louis, Missouri studying journalism and creative writing. He like staring at birds. Sometimes he wishes he could fly away too.