POETRY July 3, 2020

Eating the Tootsie Roll

However it got there, whatever stranger’s pocket
it slid from, the wrapper appeared unscathed,
so she thought nothing of it, bending to reach
the Tootsie Roll on the sidewalk by the store,
until her brother, seeing her slip its dark plasticity
onto her tongue, said you’re going to die now,
his words leaping as if from a tall window
and falling the long way through her silence—
a wordlessness she did not break the whole ride home,
where she left no note for her parents, trudged instead
up the stairs of the old row house, moved
her blankets to the tub, pillowed over her closed
eyes so that the darkness was like a tomb,
and lay there, still, to do as her brother had said.

Josh Luckenbach is pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Nashville Review and On the Seawall. He received his BA from the University of Virginia where he graduated from the Area Program in Poetry Writing.