Scott Frey – Grief

Frey LE P&W 5 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Five Nov-Dec 2023.

Grief, poems by Scott Frey.


An orca nudges forward
her daughter, small
sinking body.

Skin to skin she carries her
across her shoulders
mile after mile carving
days into weeks.

If the body begins to fall,
she catches it,
rising through the water
as if pushing a ball
to the surface.

Then one day
the daughter’s body
slides from her back
again. The mother
lets her drift

and turns away
into an endless sea

West Beach Again

A pigeon rope-a-dopes within my youngest daughter’s reach,
but her gaze lifts toward the jetty stones and tidal pools

and gulls’ wings, two commas against the horizon.
Beneath them, my son drags a tuna carcass from

two slick rocks through the wet sand. It’s taller
than she is. Their footprints are deep beside it.

He caresses the jaw, still fleshed enough to attract
two vultures. She traces her fingers along the tail.

Why are my children drawn to death in places clumsy with life?
The circle they dig around the body mirrors

the vultures’ slow descent. The vultures wait
until my kids climb back on the kelp-coated rocks.

To the Flour Handprints
on my Wife’s Pants

whose traces appear
signs that
some spectral being
alighted here
to rest her hands
atop the curved shelf
below her hips
a ghost self
who lost only the syrup
and maybe her car keys
the rest here and whole
no bitter herbs
with the zucchini
shredded to nourish
her children
in a small kitchen
where our butts brush
flecks of flour
rise from black leggings
lingering there
a message chalked on slate
from a parallel dimension
with all our children alive
together in the portrait
above the dining room table
where when we catch
each other’s eyes
mid-sentence mid-laugh
through the wisps
of our daughter’s hair
it isn’t only fantasy
all four sets of hands present
in the upside-down artwork
five braids of rope dangling
from each paint-dipped palm
grooved and blotched
clouds we’d like to climb

© Scott Frey

Scott Frey grew up in Western Pennsylvania and teaches English at Pine Meadow Academy. He also serves as a parent advisor for the Pediatric Advanced Care Team at Children’s Hospital, Boston. He and his family live in Granby, Connecticut. He has work forthcoming in Passages North, december magazine, and The Missouri Review, where he was awarded the 2023 Perkoff Prize for poetry.  His chapbook, Night Nurses, was a finalist for the 2023 Black River Poetry Competition. He is working on his first book.

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