Dust to Dust

Because my OCD has me whisking and shaking
out the heirloom rug and all the drawers of my clothes—

I shake and fan them out, but the particles will never completely exit,
flaring like dirty stars from in a cloud-filled sky. I keep buffing and airing,

but can never release the arc of my ache. Every day, starting from
scratch, I get out of bed and find every movement repeated.

Pedal to the metal, the din and dander and angst crouch
in the basement where my soul is washed with the laundry.

Bone dry, each sound—Car horn, bird caw, thunderclap of ringing
in my ears is a stark betrayal of my erasure. I will need to burn

my fingerprints with acid, just as my 3rd grade teacher wiped
off the chalk of my name from the black board— a Jetstream behind

the cursive of my 8 yr old hand. I keep trying to evacuate, but it’s an army
infiltrating, a parade of munitions. I have discovered erasure

is also a tincture. Slowly, there is a gauze being measured and wrapped
around me, one day it will be laid in the ground —But until then,

Even a speck of dust wants to be seen, wants to be reckoned with.

Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s WeathersIn The Event of Full Disclosure (CW Books),and Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020), and a chapbook forthcoming from Harbor Editions, 2022.  Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Diode, Florida Review, Green Mountains Review, Indianapolis Review, Rust + Moth, North American Review, Seneca Review, SWWIM, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College. She is an Interviews Editor for American Microreviews and Interviews.  She earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work.  Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist, Phillip Welch and their family.  More work and info at: www.cynthiaatkins.com


Cynthia Atkins




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