Love You Baby "There's 60 buzzards in the yard" gathered around a shattered deer discarded by some charging Ram. “It's been like this for days” Dad texts, dark omens crenulating his roof, shitting on his car, on his porch, their caws rattling like church bells struck with bike chains. Every couple hours he fires BBs at his chimney, his fence, over his black Ford Flex and like God's flung beer bottles the wake of buzzards splinters and regathers when my father goes back in. "Look what you miss living across the country!" he writes, then his only goodbye: "Love you baby." Days later I text back a video of my son’s first steps-- “running away from me” / “look at him go!” A week after Dad texts a photo: a tuft of rusted grass. In its center a long, yellow bone.
Bone "Polishing with a deer bone is a proven method to keep cordovan, oil-tanned and wax calf shoes, and boots clean and smooth." - Kirby Allison Fog fills the city like a lost dog's howl. All the chitchat at your funeral is dead goldfish being flushed. For the sermon, the preacher goes on about ice, how it encases an apple, the apple rots onto the orchard floor, leaving a shining sphere dangling on the bough. Months later, I discover I have forgotten how to want things. I buy the most beautiful leather boots, strip their oil with saddle soap, rag polish onto the toes until it glosses into a mirror sheen. It's fine how the reflection staring up at me isn't mine but yours. What good boots my grief makes. I wear you everywhere I go. When memory wrinkles, I apply bone.
From the author: Love, grief–it’s all part of the work we to do live. And no matter how much we enjoy this life, the work of living will work every one of us to the bone.
Todd Dillard’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Waxwing, Sixth Finch, The Adroit Journal, Fairy Tale Review, and Guernica. His debut collection Ways We Vanish was a finalist for the 2021 Balcones Poetry Prize. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife and two children, and is a Poetry Editor for The Boiler Journal.