Lesson in Winter

J. P. Grasser

Fall 2018

The Sandhills were fixed in ice.
The buckwheat chaffs looked breakable,

like the fletching of a glass arrow
or a mouse’s contorted skeleton, housed

within an owl pellet. The night before,
we caught a possum in a plastic bucket,

under the house’s cement foundation.
The foundation was cracked from years of scale

and thaw. Aunt Carol handed me your .22,
so I put a bullet behind its ear, then cleaned

the gun. I used solvent and a swatch of linen,
just how you showed me that summer.

Because the world was so bright,
we were late to your funeral. We kept running

off the road. When the possum thawed,
and mealworms ate their way out, I looked

through the window they’d opened
in its gut and a litter looked placidly back.

J. P. Grasser is a current Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah, where he serves as editor-in-chief of Quarterly West.

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