by Michelle Bonczek Evory
The game went into overtime that night. The moon didn’t
Stay to witness, having other places to be. On top
Of Mount Thoradour she couldn’t wait
To lose her virginity. This was before the war.
Before he would leave her
Pregnant with Sierra, alone, before he returned,
His left arm’s ghost dangling from his side like a medal.
He was lucky, he’d tell her, her hair
Against his bruised cheek. The scent of her
Like orange groves for the first time again. This
Was before the dance where her little sister, who scored
The tying points in the game that night would break
Her ankle while dancing with George Thyman,
Her curious white bone pushing through the skin
Of this world before being forced back,
Sewn tight under the ivory-dry cast.
But this was before color. The black and white
The newspaper took still hangs on their father’s wall.
Whenever Sierra sees the picture: her aunt’s
Long caterpillar body balancing up toward the basket,
She remembers her mother pointing to the photograph saying
This was the night when the door to my womb unlocked.
When they married for Sierra, her sister came
On crutches with George Thyman. This was before
The last witch trial had taken place. In dense forests
Skirts still fanned cautiously around dark fires.
And this was before the reunion, before Sierra’s
Mom would pull her blue Ford over to the side of the road
To wait out the storm. It was before the police would find her car
The next morning, empty, blood still wet on the steering wheel’s rim,
Black windshield wipers broken, lying in the back seat.
This was when murder first entered the town of Pulaski.
The newspaper ran a story on the accident: Sierra’s face
In color on the cover next to a reprint of her missing mother.
This was before the picture of her aunt that night on the basketball court
Would fade. That night on the court, ball rising from the arch of her
Fingers, circling the rim of the basket, wavering,
Then falling in, the whole world
Seemed right—she will remember this feeling
When she buries the ghost of her sister’s body in an empty casket.
She will remember this as she buries her face
In her brother-in-law’s empty sleeve, her niece embracing
The idea of the basketball
That made everything possible, everything feel
Secure. The way it fell through the chute, guided
By holes in the net. This was before the casket hit the ground.
This was before the war.
Last updated April 09, 2015