Oliver Victoria

On Leaving

I read somewhere     that a dog

can actually   smell

when you are   leaving


I demand to know          why God

has done this


Or why bad people     can have

good dogs


Or why loving one means      agreeing to

bury      your own baby someday


I have a lot of questions


I ask     What does it smell like

for a dog to leave?


And God does not answer


He won’t tell me     It smells like cinnamon


Like winter

in a city               you do not love


It smells a lot like     the air tonight



God says                I am sorry

I know I did dogs all wrong


Says                 forgive me


Death is a  man’s mistake

And I am every  wolf’s mother


I no longer  pray

to  the enemy


I ungrip his hands    from my boy

Carry him home            in my mouth


No one                    is leaving

And it smells like          morning light


I don’t know where / the light came from. What / direction, I mean. But in the dark / on the beach / I snapped a picture of the smooth / side of your face. I’ve never / captured an image so important. By which / I mean difficult. By which / I mean I’m angry you’re leaving. By which / I mean, I’d like to speak to who’s in charge I / demand someone explain / what is unknowable / Are we getting closer to spring? / Or is the warmth just / my mouth / dripping fire? Find me someone / who can tell the difference / I don’t know where / the light came from / Which is to say / the picture should not exist / Heart-shaped birthmark / across your collarbone / is not in any chart / Just what your parents know / Of the soft, good thing they made / What we cannot un-know / Grew both of you from soil / That’s why there is no scar / You sprouted / two sunflowers / One after the other / What’s another way of saying / slow panic? / Your brother / on his way to you / What’s another word for / come home? / Barefoot at the edge of the driveway / Sun setting over Monticello / She listens to the echo of her whistle / undelivered / Bouncing back from the / nothingness of the street / Calling the no one of her babies home / Dinner is ready / Her lips keep moving / Most of what I know is covered in your hair / At the end of this / the world I mean / they’ll only be able / to find your bones / wrapped inside of mine


Oliver Victoria is a working-class, queer femme writer earning their MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Mills College in Oakland, California. They work in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry forms and have been featured in Pathos and Sic Expression.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *