Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Brief Instructions for Drawing a Portrait of My Wife after the Most Violent Week in Recent U.S. History

by Dante Di Stefano

Begin with the intangibles: her voice
composed from cradlesong and carry on,
her kindness, a doe on the median,
her concern, a heavy kiss, a deep breath.

Continue by crosshatching the background,
stars in the shape of fractured orbital
sockets, anger shaped like a bruise, bruises
shaped like protest, protest shaped like verdict.

Figure out how to draw an indictment
in the burgeoning tremble of her frown;
Do not cordon off the lines of her face
with police tape and render her in chalk.

Do not forget that grief digs a grave in
the wind, unchains a pit bull in your throat,
leaves the imprint of a fist, a baton,
an instep flowering downward in rage.

Erase the Kevlar vest you hastily
sketched to protect her lovely clavicle.
You cannot protect her. Instead, outline
the frenzied Lion’s mane of her brown hair.

Trace the defiant contours of her neck;
detail every inch of her body
as it has pressed against your own body,
fused anew as one unbroken body.

Delineate her against a darkness
stippled with gunshots. Call it perspective
because you believe in angels and love
more than in grand juries and arraignments.

You will not draw those things, but you know now
that you must spend your entire life drafting
the halftones and patterns this darling bride
twirls above you in the endless night sky.