Thinnest Day of the Year

Chanel Brenner

When our older son died,


I touched a tree to see if it was real.


Six years later, on Halloween, my younger son turns


the yard surreal, with Halloween zombie


heads, severed feet, and tomb stones.


The leaves on the neighbor’s ficus blacken.


Mold grows on our shower tile’s grout.


Canker sores fester in my mouth.


When I drive my son to school, the parking lot


is empty. Where is everybody?, he asks.


A stranger’s voice answers my husband’s phone


when I call him at the gym,


He wants me to tell you he’s okay,


but there’s been an accident…


Home from the hospital, my husband


limps up the steps to our house.


I bring ice packs and pain killers


to his resting place on our living room floor.


Decapitated heads and bloodied necks


glisten in the daylight, severed hands reach


from earth, trying to pull themselves out.


I catch my reflection in a store window.


When did my skin become like ash?