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If you could name it:

If you could witness that first
sulfurous drop,
could calculate

just how little acid water needs
to carve its runnels
into memory like lace,

could you then draft 
a theory of subtraction:
if the quotient is disappearance,

how do you isolate
the inner flaw
the infirmity, deduce the value 

of a firmament that any moment 
could swallow you
in its giant leafy mouth?

You are torturing the page
for that equation, the blackboard 
clouded by chalky smears

where x once was, knowing 
this will always end in a forest, 
in that dream of your father walking away

and you called his name
and he kept walking
your voice clawing the dark

from the air like charcoal, the air
blackening he kept walking 
and you who were not the child self 

were falling your mouth wide open 
face down your mouth filling with dirt 
and dead leaves—you 

are the mouth. You 
are the swallowing, 
becoming it.

Elizabeth C. Garcia’s work has or will soon appear in journals such as Tar River Poetry, CALYX, Anti-Heroin Chic, Chautauqua, Dialogist, SoFloPoJo, Mom Egg Review, Psaltery & Lyre, and SWWIM, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her chapbook, Stunt Double, was published in 2016 through Finishing Line Press. She is the current Poetry Editor for Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, a Georgia native and mother of three. Read more of her work at

© 2022, Elizabeth C. Garcia

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