After my daughter died, I looked
for her life anywhere it could have been
hiding—chocolate coins at the bottom
of my flower vase, a piggy bank tucked
into the movie cabinet. I still find iridescent
heart-shaped confetti in the carpet, caught along
the baseboards from a long-ago surprise toy.
Her socks are under the coffee table. A squishy
toy behind the cedar chest. Her baby doll
laid to rest in a wash cloth in the laundry
basket. There’s a juice bottle I find
in our car under the back seat. The top
is a cartoon pony—Sparkle Fly or Rainbow
Mint, I can’t remember what she named it.
Do we leave the tree house outside, the Power
Wheels Princess Carriage, the pile of pretty
rocks she collected on the sidewalk?
I still look for them. I spent the week after
her death digging in the gravel of our driveway
for a glint until my fingertips turned red
and throbbed. I made a broken quartz
monument next to our pond where we walked.
I want to believe in the magic she saw
in the rocks she gathered in her pockets,
that somehow it can call her back to me.
No one warns you about the shrine you’re building
to live in when they’re gone, how hard it is to keep
going on, when your house and car and yard
and heart are waiting for them to pick up
wherever it was that their body stopped.
Whittney Jones lives in southern Illinois, between cornfields and cow pastures, with her husband. She was winner of the 2014 Illinois Emerging Writers Contest. Her first chapbook, The Old Works, was published in 2019 with The Heartland Review Press. Her poems have been published in such magazines as Blackbird, Beloit Poetry Journal, Zone 3, Third Coast, Crab Orchard Review, and Ninth Letter.