Back to Issue Twenty-Four.

a beginning



We light your body on fire. We learn to pray.

Summer opens and falls to its knees. I hold the sun

behind my eyelids. I see your lips on Mom’s

swollen belly. She holds your head at both ears.

Listen. I can’t go back any further. Look at me

shouting behind the glass, my dumb hands

banging on air. I see you standing on the porch

of the dream. Even here, you’re turning

to ash, dissolving into ocean. Years of nothing.

How can I explain this feeling. Mom says

you’re still inside me. I trace the lines of my palm

with a switchblade. I learn to beg. Undress

language with my tongue. Collarbone, lipstick.

I come over the bathroom sink, drag my palm

across the mirror. Call it horizon. The beginning

of heaven. The house I’m always leaving.

Say, goodbye. I dare you. Say, I’m sorry.

My hand reaches for your face. It could fit

in your eye socket, dissolve into night like

your ash on my fingertips. I’ve forgotten

so much already. I drive across the country.

I fall in love. You have no idea. I look exactly

like you. I dissolve into hands. We smile.

Mom reaches for me across the table, says

look how far you’ve come to get here.

And outside, the rain assembling

like bones in a dream.






after grief therapy

We lifted the parachute
high as we could, took turns
on our backs, arms pulling the sky apart
overhead. Someone said
close your eyes and I felt the room
breathe. My father was there
and the house was on fire. We walked
the seam between rooms together
like I too had died and death
was a hallway. How else could I be there?
It was the dream we all had, our hands
becoming hands as we moved them
in tandem. He opened a door
and I couldn’t tell the living
from the dead. I thought we all
were ascending. On the night my heart
finally opened I saw a black ocean
hang like a pendulum under a black sky.
I swear I’ve never felt love like this.
I say I’m afraid I won’t be the same
as I was before, and you say
it doesn’t matter. Let go.


Michael Dhyne was born and raised in California. He is currently a Henry Hoyns Fellow in the University of Virginia’s MFA program, where he teaches poetry and was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. Recent work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fugue, Salt Hill, Sonora Review, and Washington Square Review. 

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