The weight of the receiver in my hand:
the down bird in my palm first lifting you.
The counselor’s words: rehearsed, a burlesque bland.

The shift in time, the shift to looking through
her lens: today you are just one of two
hundred lost. My eyes fix on our bright fence.

I say your name, but you are no one new –
caught in an ancient book that she’ll condense.
I want her to discuss you in the present tense.

I want the gods to stop pretending love
calls the departed home. We called you
with our various loves, had hope, hovered

over still fields; made wind like the gods do
before they come unhinged, let their rage loose
on an unresponsive yield.  Fields gone deaf

and dumb; unshaken, fruitless ground, unmoved
by a neighborhood of mothers who left
their own to find you – tables, like mine, set.

I want the gods to swallow their prayers
whole. Choke up my child like the Olympians –
a girl, unbruised by her journey down their

throats.  I want her at my table: fruit, alms
that the gods, I see, can give or take – balm
for the irritations I caused, or they

caused; gifts between us or perhaps among
themselves – a girl that they’ll barter away.
I’m here. And I’m willing to talk, or trade.


Copyright © 2011 M. B. McLatchey All rights reserved.
Winner of the American Poet Prize for 2011
Published in  
The American Poetry Journal, Spring 2012.
1-800-THE-LOST
Winner of the 2011 American Poet Prize