The Study of Tragedy by Laura Sobbott Ross

We can’t help but stir the ashes, finger 

the relics, the proofed bits of minutia 

improvised into legacy: the missing girl’s

last drink—a cherry vodka sour, the box of

long-stemmed roses by the door 

wicking a spot of blood. Is it too much 

to remember the girl

abducted on her way to school

had a check in her pocket to buy a lamb,

or that the window was left open that night

because the woman burned the meatloaf?

We can pick through the crumbs 

trailing into the troll-dark forest; 

no one will be following them back home— 

the shoe by the bridge, the spent cigarette, 

the button, the handprint, the hair.

We want to reassure ourselves there was no 

ambush, that no one was sleeping 

when the stranger crept into the bedroom. 

We’d like to believe in inklings, patterns

of fate, more than footprints in snow,

or a pillow used as a weapon.

Read the words in the diary of the dead,

backwards this time. Were there signs

of a struggle? Hadn’t she sensed someone

was watching? Were his dreams about falling? 

Look deeper into the photo, into the tea leaves

of the iris of the eye, beyond the pupil’s 

black eclipse, the sea-grassy current

of synapse, sphincter, cilia, the mechanics

of cell—the synchronized cogs in each

slippery hinge triggered to swing open—

the last white dove poised to fly.

More art by Sungwon  here.

Recommended listening: Uncertainty – Jagwar Ma

Links of the day: What happened in my birth year

The British Library’s Photostream 


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