Cause and Manner, by Jeannelle Ferreira

Everything washes away,
Red running down to silver against zinc.
The tools are set aside. The voices stay,
Locked in drawers at the end of the shift.

Red runs down to silver in the sink,
the last of the parking lot, the ditch, the cooler.
Behind closed doors, at the end of the shift,
death’s scent is lemon; sour masking sweet.

The parking lot, the fallow field, the cooler:
you scrawl memory through mirror-steam.
Death’s scent is lemon, sour masking sweet.
Slack-skinned, blunt-boned, your fingers slide astray.

You scrawl memory through mirror-steam.
You came home fading, one of eight this week
slack-grinned, blunt-boned, clean-boiled, and boxed away;
names are set aside. The voices stay.

Jeannelle M. Ferreira (she/her) writes queer historical romance and sometimes poetry. She has a spouse, a tween, a cat, and several jobs (the first of which was as a diener in the city morgue). In 2021, her work has appeared in Climbing Lightly Through Forests, an anthology tribute to Ursula K. LeGuin (edited by R. B. Lemberg and Lisa M. Bradley, from Aqueduct Press). She is finishing the sequel to 2018’s The Covert Captain and a collection of short stories, because this has been the year for that kind of thing. Find her on Twitter @jeannellewrites, particularly if you have thoughts on late Georgian coaching inns and post roads. 

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