Conflation Elegy

I recall Faulkner and the kid with the mom-
fish. It is Dewey Dell and a wet seed wild
that makes me think—poem about witnessing
Stephanie Rose die. Because you are my mom-
fish / no-fish? Because you were a soaked seed
and then you weren’t? A pearl button and then
not a pearl button. When we first met, you were
a quick way out then you were a bloom breath.
You were a helping of new/now then a reason
to wake the next day, to call my own mom,
to get sober. You were a real girl with a real wide
sick face, and I knew the man you seduced
at my bar—I knew his wife too. I first met you
that night, and you explained he called, he paid,
she knew, so I don’t care about that, but I do care
about who built your coffin and how much time
they took. Did they show it to you plank
by plank? I almost stopped on ? but haven’t yet
mentioned you dying, haven’t yet said how you
breathed with a moon in your mouth until there
wasn’t any night left, until the fish was pieces
in the cupboard and the cow, the hot body, was milk
weighted and whelping. In ICU your mother asked
me to take the bags to the car, preparation for no
more breathless nights—the moon was plugging
you up so breath was sea froth, you were no-you,
you were no-seed, and who is responsible for those
shit lungs! Really, who gave you those shit lungs
Steph? No-lungs. No-girl. Once moon glow, now no-
moon, no-fish. I killed the moon as you laid dying.
I saw it and closed both eyes so it was gone.

Adele Elise Williams is a poet, editor, educator from Baton Rouge, Louisiana currently working on a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Her poetry can be found or forthcoming in Guernica, Barzakh, Cream City Review, Split Lip Magazine, Quarterly West, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her current goings-on can be found at adeleelisewilliams.com.