By Jared Harél
Feature image: The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, c. 1805 by William Blake
My daughter’s in the kitchen, working out death.
She wants to get it. How it tastes and feels.
Her teacher talks like it’s some great, golden sticker.
Her classmates hear rumors, launch it as a curse
when toys aren’t shared. Between bites of cantaloupe,
she considers what she knows: her friend’s grandpa lives only
in her iPad. Dr. Seuss passed, but keeps speaking
in rhyme. We go to the Queens Zoo and spot the beakish skull
of a white-tailed deer tucked between rocks
in the puma’s enclosure. It’s just for show, I explain,
explaining nothing. That night, and the one after,
my daughter dreams of bones, how they lift
out of her skin and try on her dresses. So silly! she laughs,
when I ask if she’s okay. Then later, toward the back-end
of summer, we head to Coney Island to catch
a Cyclones game. We buy hot dogs and fries. A pop fly arcs
over checkerboard grass, when flush against the horizon
she sees a giant wooden spine, a dark blossom,
this brownish-red maze all traced in decay. She calls it
Sad Rollercoaster, then begs to be taken home.
Jared Harél’s debut poetry collection, Go Because I Love You, won the Diode Editions Poetry Award and was published by Diode Editions in 2018. He’s also been awarded the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review, the William Matthews Poetry Prize from Asheville Poetry Review, and two Individual Artist Grants from Queens Council on the Arts. New poems of his have recently appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as 32 Poems, APR, Bennington Review, and THRUSH. Harél teaches writing at Nassau Community College, is a drummer, and lives in Queens with his wife and two kids.
Feature image: Rosenwald Collection. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.