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Mill River in the Evening and a Funeral

by Tamara Thomson

I met a friend from twenty years ago
we stood and sang a hymn for the departed—
what secrets we shared paled in the light
of secrets we hid. We could not forget

our year together, ill youth, wards of
the state, when I had done my best
to bleed out and she had hoped to starve.
We sang for the dead and longed to remember:

thatch reeds and a solitary otter,
dumplings the texture of river mist,
Palestrina motets and a song to
sage salmon. But what we remembered:

the gauzy scent of saliva, the sooty
stare of eyes with no color, the boy who
strangled on bed sheets knotted to a fire
sprinkler. The funeral left me wanting.

I want to rent the redbrick Brassworks:
green wooden windows and locked green doors
on the bank of Mill River—
I will walk through bare rooms in dusty light

fluent in prayer to the god of paneled space
eating olives from clear glass bowls
my green eyes like an echo in green windows
(the river will pause in a pool of orchid gold)

and chilled by a rising mist I will wait
for a disturbance, any disturbance,
for the plunge of a silk otter
or the splash of an Hesperides’ heel.




Tamara Pace Thomson is an MFA candidate in creative writing. She and her husband have three kids, two dogs, and a hedgehog (thanks to Shamae Budd for the inspiration).