Detail from Todi Ragini, from a Ragamala Series. Eastern India, Bengal, Murshidabad, 18th century. The Cleveland Museum of Art.


As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Long ago, in the garden of a man who tried to kill me,
I tended watermelon, green pepper, tomatoes as blighted
as hurt. I was young enough then to want to grow

into a coyote fighting a dog, into an earthworm’s
five unsaddened hearts. Nights now, I still dream
of the Rapture, of vanishing into a life I might survive.

But you are alive here with me. From his pulpit in Kansas,
my wild-eyed uncle urges me to consider the miraculous,
but this is the only miracle I know. I am trying to plant

you in the valley of bones that do not break, am trying
to hide you from harm in the shadow of my own fat body.
Somewhere, Lauren, is a wilderness of unbroken things:
fine china, umbrellas, snail shells, saltine crackers. And deer,
untouched by gun season, that do not know to be afraid.

Audrey Gradzewicz

Audrey Gradzewicz was born in Buffalo, New York. Her poems appear in Southern Indiana Review, Smartish Pace, Mid-American Review, Muzzle, The Puritan, Ninth Letter, and Thrush.