Unclaimed County

Your presence disassembles me,
unhinges muscle and joint,
an unstrung marionette who
among others remains whole—
but cannot sleep, a blistered wound
festering back and forth across the sheets.

Your broken gifts are tossed to me—
a rind of bread, a scrap of meat,
water sweetened to nectar, drops
of soup I lick from my fingers,
food the others refuse to eat.

I spy that delicate spot behind your ear
that slips down your nape
to an unclaimed country I cannot cross,
a forbidden no-man’s land
riddled with land mines and hills of rock,
where I hear the roar of water
flooding a place I didn’t know went dry.

I have no standard to measure you by.
I dictate in my mind conversations we may have.
I pace the floor for news of you.
I replay every word we’ve spoken,
the same granular movie that flickers back and forth
as I think of the things I should have said.
You lead me to such distraction
I forget to tie my shoes.

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Caroline Misner’s work has appeared in numerous publications in the USA, Canada, India and the UK.  She lives in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands of Northern Ontario where she continues to draw inspiration for her work.  She is the author of the Young Adult fantasy series “The Daughters of Eldox”.  Her latest novel, “The Spoon Asylum” was released in May of 2018 by Thistledown Press and was nominated by the publisher for the Governor General Award. You can view more of her work at her website: carolinemisner.com.

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