Long Division

By Jessica Tanck

We have split the phone plan,
emptied the safety deposit box.

My dad is moving out of the house:
gone, the sentinel from his office

in the basement, plastic Star Wars
figurines tipped into a box.

It is hard not to imagine all of us
in our old places, hard not to fill

the house with past. Alesha (sister,
I still think, not ex-. ex-step.)

cross-legged on the futon, remote
in hand, a bowl of macaroni

in her lap. She peels home
on repeat, inside in a jangle

of keys, stays up with me all night,
perpetually lights and leaves.

Myranda (blood sister) half-absent
in her eyrie, moves from floor to desk,

floor to desk. My stepmom flickers
in the dark bedroom, in the mirrors,

on the stairs, in the corners of halls.
I am always underneath all of this,

in the skin of the basement or crossing
the yard. How many times do I tread that

bed of needles, climb to the freshly sawn-off
branches, wish a kinder mending, wish

an absence gone? Press my hands to trace
the drip of sap, what cannot be divided,

to touch what bubbles forth, what empties,
amber, from the knotted heart.

Jessica Tanck is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign’s MFA program, and lives and writes in Salt Lake City, where she is a Vice-Presidential Fellow and doctoral student in poetry at the University of Utah. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Colorado Review, DIAGRAM, The Los Angeles Review, Kenyon Review Online, and others.

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