Your brain had already started unmaking the rest 

of you: nothing but gray meat, memories unspooling 

so rapidly they became entangled, became knotted.

And the medication had stopped working, but still, I fed you

the little blue pills, the ones that reminded me of the little blue

butterflies you said Satan sent us—gifts of unforgivable evil—controllers 

of both the weather and the television—arrival predicated by sudden 

downpour and static flickering. In defense of the azalea bush still clinging 

to the first-floor bricks, we’d press cherries to the roofs of our mouths

while standing in the kitchen, waiting to bite the skin until we had pushed 

past the screen door, when precipitation, mixed with juice, ran down 

our chins like a mighty river of blood, and we spat the pits into the air

like throwing stars we hoped would tear through their tissue 

paper wings. One day, I fumbled the dislodge, tripped and swallowed

the stone, and you told me it was only a matter of time—seed sown 

in the stomach, nerves replaced by roots—a tree would surely 

sprout through the top of my head, so tall, we’d have to call 

the fire department, call anyone, to chop it down. But there were no 

extra hairs, there was no germination, no fruit. There was no 

extra anything, and when they told me you didn’t have much time left, 

and there were no other options, I snuck two crimson 

globes into your room, carried them in my back pocket, 

and said, No, don’t spit that out. Yes, swallow it, swallow all 

of it. Here, I’ll do it with you. Open your lips, stick out  

your tongue, there you go—but now you’re buried, long gone,

and I’m still here waiting for leaves to climb out of the dirt.

Kevin West

is an MFA candidate in poetry at Virginia Tech. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue Earth Review, Sycamore Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Tampa Review, and elsewhere.

Contributions by Kevin West