To Clarey
Jess Williard

To Clarey

There’s more to grace than departure.
It’s other than what our grandfather

breathed into our mouths at dinner.
His house couldn’t handle

anyone not inhaling it, a shell
of papered wall and patch jobs.

The first place he showed me
was the plastered hole

where he busted through
the bedroom wall 

with a hairbrush.

That night, I leaned
against it while you

so dutifully burned
the needle with a lighter,
dipped it in the scavenged
vodka, pierced my ear

and nearly cried.
I begged you to do it.

How you could have been hurt
by tearing my skin might be

the answer to all of this.

Show me the damaged places
where you do not have a scar.

Give me your marks—
I will wear them

and not call them my own.
If I could mean something

because of what you mean,
would that be grace?

Jess Williard

has contributed to The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, North American Review, New Orleans Review, Southern Humanities Review, Third Coast, Oxford Poetry, and other journals. He is from Wisconsin.