You grieved for the skin we found stuck to the sidewalk;
not knowing the garden snakes were only molting,
like boys running towards the water, their elbows popping out of T-shirt sleeves.
At nine and a half in dress up clothes on basement steps, we held mass like Priests.
Wearing Father’s ties, you wrote eulogies for everything that tasted like tragedy.
We learned to mourn on Saturday mornings, in bare feet with dirty hands,
planting tulip bulbs upside down in Mother’s garden.
I am buttoning my black coat to my chin, standing in the kitchen,
feeling your silence on my skin.
I am at the corner of your grief, and you are
somewhere in the middle of its country,
in the middle of his absence,
At night, I wake up and I am close enough for a minute
to hear the boys, sixteen, and calling to the shore
The night they raced to the water.
I dig my feet into the cold sand and watch them
spitting salt water from their cheeks.
Children with sunburns peeling down their backs.
Sea snakes, shedding their skin.
Emma Crockford is currently a sophomore at Rising Tide Charter Public School in Massachusetts. Her interests include goats that look like old men, and dogs that look like their owners. In the summer of 2014, Emma was the recipient of Stonehill College’s advanced studies program for teen’s Creative Writing Award. In 2015, She was chosen to attend the Grubstreet Young Adult Writer’s Fellowship. She is the founder and editor of her high school newspaper. Emma’s work has appeared in The Noisy Island, Teen Ink’s Print Magazine, and Grub Street’s Fellowship Anthology.
Art by Fiona McDonald