Inheriting the Cave

Hillery Stone

As heir to a congress of grief the cave was willed to me
like rocky land passed down with its nutrients drained,

its useless soil hardened to bone. If I circle it
like a late-winter lion, if I could find the crux of sorrow inside—

I have pulled my sister from its dark & driven away
with the windows rolled down to clean the lonely hallways out.

I have left behind our broken teeth, birds the cat slaughtered;
dust of our warped genetic materials.

Anne made her soup in there. Mother set a lampshade
beside her father’s torn neck. Lauren went in to sleep on the cold earth

& came out one day in the middle
of a playground & saw a world without herself

in it. That is the principle of the cave. Centuries of weathering rock
become it, molecules draw toward each other like blind cattle in a field

until a structure hard as limestone kneels
over the earth.

Then the earth is underneath it, and also inside it.
Then you drift in, though you had meant to go somewhere else.