For Not Letting Go

by Arielle Hebert

I begin again,
the ceremony of searching
for arrest records

any small word
carried like a spider
on the shoulders
of a gulf wind
to tell me she’s alive.

Ten years
this ritual has grown
a knotted vine

my wild need
to dig up roots.

I’ve dug so deep
down here, it’s gravedirt.

I’m alone with
my loyal dogs
Canes Venatici
and we’re hungry
waiting for the scent

and when we find her
I taste oceansalt

I want to give it all back
her latest mug shot
the charges

but they are mine
to keep.

They turn to gravel
in my mouth

my punishment
for not letting go

and stone by stone
I must swallow.

Arielle Hebert holds an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Willow Springs, Split Rock Review, and Bombay Gin, among others. She won the 2019 North Carolina State University Poetry Contest judged by Ada Limón. She was nominated for Best New Poets Anthology in 2017. Arielle believes in ghosts and magic. www.ariellehebert.com