When the Sky Reddens

The air turns hard today with the scent of frozen ground, seeps through
windows with the low whistling of a wanderer. My father died in winter—
unbound from the plot of his disease, looted of all his senses, he drifted off.

There are children in Cambodia who never touch land, anchored
from birth in shallow lakes and weeds. They help their fathers weave
wicker shrimp traps, fatten little fish in tanks, learn to weather storms.

They do not trust the land, fear the hardness and the people there.
Nights when the sky reddens, they remember blood in the water,
hatchets and guns, how the bodies fell overboard like thick vines.

I brace for cold, sickly yellow sodium lights hunched over streets,
morning limps to the door. See how the curtain hangs crooked
like a careless veil, how deep this room is, the whorl of red in water.

Suzanne Frank is a Chicago landscape designer and studies ornithology. She has been published in 10x3 Plus Poetry JournalSow’s EarAnother Chicago Magazine (ACM), Stray Bullets: Anthology of Chicago Saloon Poets and Power Lines (Tia Chucha Press).