The Thing is Your Life

By Rachael Ikins


you get caught up in the avalanche

or gravity and speed down paths

bouncing and chipping.

You accumulate dents, leave

paint flakes and broken pieces strewn

like wedding rice behind you.


Then one day the universe shifts.

The planets align or Mercury isn’t in retrograde; there isn’t a full moon.

You spin to a stop. Fetch up against some rock,

boulder that scrapes skin.


After the bruises and the blood- letting, after the sprains and torn

muscles, broken bones knit enough

to bear weight— it may not be pretty.

Scrabbling on hands and knees.

Levering yourself upright with a deadfall tree branch-


you stand. Retching and dizzy.

You look back. There is no going back.

Its all lava or flood.

So you limp forward through fog, smoke, sudden startling

patches of too-bright light as tight as a burst wine-skin with grief.


But a berry offers itself to your parched lips. A thrush chortles

in the trees, and bit by bit as you inch along

tattered fragments of yourself float into your field of vision.

In the tang of berry on your tongue or the scent of camp fire smoke. You are


here and there at once. You tie your torn jacket to make a satchel

and pick each remnant from the thorns that hold it and layer them,

soft as spider silk in your bag.


One day you won’t be bleeding any more, bruises will fade, and the bag

will be shiny with fullness—all the portions of yourself you’d thought

you’d had to jettison to save yourself. But you never stopped missing them.


One night by candle light in a cabin high up the mountain, you will spread

these pieces across a table or bed or the floor and marvel at the god

who made sure that of all the thousands, the ones you needed most

turned up here.

And you put yourself back together.


Rachael Ikins is a 2016/18 Pushcart nominee, 2013/18 CNY Book Award nominee, and the
2018 Independent Book Award winner poet/novelist/artist. She featured at Tyler Gallery 2016,
Rivers End Bookstore 2017, ArtRage gallery 2018, Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Aaduna
fundraiser 2017 Auburn, NY, Syracuse Poster Project 2015, and Palace Poetry, Syracuse. Her
work is included in the 2019 anthologies Gone Dogs and We Will Not Be Silenced the latter
Book Authority’s #2 pick for the top 100 Best New Poetry Books for 2019. She has 7
chapbooks, a full length poetry collection and a novel,  with 3 publishers. She is a graduate of
Syracuse University, member of the CNY branch of NLAPW, and Associate Editor of Clare
Somgbirds Publishing House, Auburn, NY.

Twitter @nestl493

Instagram is @poetreeinmoshun





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