If Only

by Heidi Seaborn

I left my body. No
smell of living thing. No hunter’s
dead carcass guttering the earth,
blood draining. No
midwinter ice thaw to blister
the air. No huff of coffee.
Or smoke waking as lit tinder
crackles. No composting leaves
or the nip of snow.


I had soaked the white beans,
so added them with the carrots,
celery, green beans, zucchini
and cabbage to the onions
translucent in butter and oil.
Then the bone broth, stewed
tomatoes, parmesan crust.
A slow boil. The house becoming
that inn nested in the Rapallo hills.
I think we laughed there, dipping
bread into minestrone.


The window open, I heard
the wind chimes, the soft brush
of branches. If I had risen then.


What we call the beginning—
each baby’s howl, or spring
crocus nudging winter aside—
is often the end. I know
with certainty that prayer
is a dog’s whimper, a woman
crying, a man whistling.


And then I waited at the gate.
It may have been forever.
The sea had boiled over.
My fingers numbed.
If only you had been there to touch
my lips. Moist. A breath
still lingering like morning fog.


Heidi Seaborn is author of PANK Poetry Prize winner An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe, the acclaimed debut Give a Girl Chaos and Comstock Chapbook Award-winning Bite Marks. Recent work in Blackbird, Beloit, Brevity, Copper Nickel, Cortland Review, diode, Financial Times of London, The Missouri Review, The Offing, The Slowdown, Washington Post and elsewhere. Heidi is Executive Editor of The Adroit Journal and holds an MFA from NYU.

Image: Anthony levlev