CONSECRATION by Cynthia Atkins

A circle, a congregation of hands over hearts, as rescuers stand on sacred earth. 23 million tons collapsed on a mound of silences. The throng of shoes, a teenager’s first gold jewelry box. An easel with fresh paint, a spatula in the sink, the piles of dishes, the dust, the drawers of what-me-knots. The sticky notes with reminders to the self on colored pads. All the lists for tomorrow. Bras and boxer shorts and furry slippers by the beds. The drawings from 6 year olds (moons and stars and yellow suns), held by magnets on refrigerator doors. Calendars with fresh pen marks. Pungent flowers in vases. So many cartons of eggs. Stoves and toasters. A spelling bee book with doodles in the margins. Airline tickets to home. A piano, a violin, a concert of souls—so quiet in the piles. The leases, the contracts, the marriage vows. The stamp collection. Bone China brought over on a boat from Odessa. Unopened UPS packages. Fischer Price pop up toys, the doors and boxes, mute of springs and noises.. The stacks of mail. Nouns. Verbs. Adjectives. Someone’s ample love letters in a shoebox under the bed. Newspapers, yesterday’s headlines. Rakes and shovels and toilets. The 23 million tons of rubble. The coins. The car keys. The pencils, batteries, and smoke alarms. Tea kettles bereft of their steam. Cigarettes and liquor, and shelves of canned soup. The soap still wet in the showers. The cradles dinging their nursery songs. The candles. The suitcases in closets. Rubber bands. Rafters Bottles of. Eau de perfum. Steel beams. Anthems. Chandeliers sprung from ceilings. Mirrors and books and packed lunch pails. Knapsacks with ink stains. Chairs and tables. Our strewn furniture of the earth—The people, the people, the people.

Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event of Full Disclosure (CW Books), Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020). She was formerly the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College, where she curated a quarterly reading Series, Lit-Salon. Atkins earned her MFA from Columbia University. Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist Phillip Welch and their family.