Victoria Nordlund, Reduction


(After Picasso’s The Dog)

How much of you will I remember when you die?

I wonder when your body will become a thin black line that I will trace
around and around. I try to draw my mom and dad and it never gets easier.
I see them now — rendered flat on white sheets.

Will I miss a leg or two, or the crust in your eyes I remove
each morning with a warm paper towel, or the plaque
between your teeth, the lipoma on your lip, the outline
of your ribs, the salt curls of your black coat?

All you crave is water. And I fill your bowl over
and over. They were so thirsty too —
and I wonder if you drink because you have forgotten,
or because you want to drown.

I have dreams that draw all of you whole.
We are walking, your gaits steady in shade and highlight–
and my mind adds depth to your smiles
and a horizon line where sky seems to meet ground.

And then I wake up and feed you from my palm —
anything you will keep down. How did you get so small?
I remember the strawberry smoothie I put to Dad’s lips.
It was his last taste of this world.

Victoria Nordlund’s poetry collection Binge Watching Winter on Mute was published by Main Street Rag in June 2019. She is a Best of the Net and 2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Rust+Moth, Chestnut Review, Pidgeonholes, and elsewhere. Read more of Victoria here.

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