On a dark pink background, title text reads

ekphrastic under a bombed-out sky 

If you cut out a rectangle of perfectly blue sky, no clouds, no wind, no birds, frame it with a blue frame, place it face up on the floor of an empty museum with an open atrium to the sky, that is grief.
— Victoria Chang in “Grief—as I knew it, died many times” from her collection, Obit

I can’t abide happy art, not when the air
hanging over my people is smoke-dusted,
bomb-clouded, gray with phosphorus
& miasmic with rot. Not when the weather
is sunny with a chance of bullets, partly
bloody, & cool with a wind chill of dead.
Not when the DSM has no diagnosis
for PTSD without the P
because there’s no post, the letters
pile up like bodies in the street.

Blue sky grief is a different breed: natural causes
& old age; diseases acquired from a life lived,
if not lived well. Our sky grief is a night ablaze
with rockets, eardrums throbbing, windows
rattling, & tent flaps clapping from the blast.

I buy an abstract painting during the genocide
so I can project my grief onto the canvas.
One day, the triangle of red is blood; another,
a wedge of ambulance. Sometimes a purple
smudge of fig; others, a deep bruise.
The chartreuse, a festering wound,
the sick of sick—no poetic way
to say vomit. Frameless, uncontainable.

If I place my abstract on the floor of what’s left
of a looted museum, a hole to the sky
where the ceiling once was, I doubt
the warplanes would even notice—
& because they chose not to see, they’ll claim
it must never have been there at all.

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