Jointly Responsible by Kelli Russell Agodon & Martha Silano

What does a gesture hold?
What of the body, its let and go?
What if you offer, instead of a house,

a housing project, a promise or a lie,
whether the alarm is armed, not knowing
by way of a gaze, a glance—the eyes severed

from status. I nod at the soldier because
I have no words, though I know I am more
than my Garamond, my Times New Roman.

When he died he died the way a leaf dies,
a birch leaf, how it sticks to the shoes
of all who pass by.

Like playing Clue,
Colonel Mustard with the rope
in the parlor. Miss Scarlet with the knife.

Sometimes I need my secret decoder
to know if you’re grieving, to comprehend
the library of your pain, my losses tallied by wind.

What grows in the ice is null,
but the dirt adds up, the soot from the sky.
I know what a handshake returns. Tripping,

we pretend we are dancing.
Absolution, like absolute. Adding
the salty unknown, stirring toward a solution.

The soldier speaking quietly in the field.
The hand, we say, lend a hand, the part
standing in for the whole. Therefore, stars

and stripes, the men in blue,
a podcast of weeping, the YouTube
channel of wincing. Searchbox grief.

How can we judge time when time
reminds us of church bells? Who’s gone
down a rabbit hole? Wintry mix. Crust you must

break through. She entered the house.
Fetched a plastic tub. Labeled it March 4th.
Filled it with snow. Simplicity of a woman holding the cold.
Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of six books, most recently, Hourglass Museum (Finalist for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry & the Julie Suk Poetry Prize) & The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice, which she coauthored with Martha Silano. She is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works are an editor and book cover designer. Her work has appeared in the The Atlantic, New England Review and O, The Oprah Magazine. Kelli is also the Co-Director of the Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women, as well as an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in the Pacific Northwest.
Martha Silano’s books include The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, Reckless Lovely, and What the Truth Tastes Like. She also co-edited, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. Poems will soon appear in Blackbird, North American Review, New England Review, and Plume. Martha edits the Seattle-based literary journal, Crab Creek Review, and teaches at Bellevue College.