Small Mourning by Natalie Martell

Lately all I can remember of dreams is that I’ve forgotten them 

the way a few people will gasp with grief when I die until 

too many years pass & my laugh & smell are lost 

dreams would I even know if disaster struck 

in the building where I live would I hear a faint howl 

the tide is an ending I can’t stand once on the beach I squatted 

beside a castle rich with plastic animals the lion washed away with a wave 

& there was nothing to do but heave myself weightless into the empty 

ocean like the doves that erupted from a truck bed last week except 

one flattened & I knew they were papers dancing & spinning with speeding

cars how had they gotten free these stories or records or blank pages maybe 

something precious was lost to rot & pulp but for a brief moment they’d broken

loose & flew I still don’t know if lions can swim but I picked grains 

of sand from my toes for days afterward I have carried these small 

mournings sweet ghosts carried them with me for years like sand

in the sea so full & taking up not even a speck of space in the cavern

I carry what will I have left in the end but the idea of a lion slinking

through depths its yellow mane a speck roaring in the blue

hollow which someone might mistake for a sun

Natalie Martell is a Minneapolis-based queer writer. Since earning her MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, she has received creative support grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her work has appeared in The Journal, Salt Hill, SWWIM, Flyway, and elsewhere.