Thinnest Day of the Year

Chanel Brenner

When our older son died,

I touched a tree to see if it was real.

Six years later, on Halloween, my younger son turns

the yard surreal, with Halloween zombie

heads, severed feet, and tomb stones.

The leaves on the neighbor’s ficus blacken.

Mold grows on our shower tile’s grout.

Canker sores fester in my mouth.

When I drive my son to school, the parking lot

is empty. Where is everybody?, he asks.

A stranger’s voice answers my husband’s phone

when I call him at the gym,

He wants me to tell you he’s okay,

but there’s been an accident…

Home from the hospital, my husband

limps up the steps to our house.

I bring ice packs and pain killers

to his resting place on our living room floor.

Decapitated heads and bloodied necks

glisten in the daylight, severed hands reach

from earth, trying to pull themselves out.

I catch my reflection in a store window.

When did my skin become like ash?