National Anthem

Carly Inghram

The pain of others
gently stabs me like
the slow entrance
into a scalding tub.

As we place the bright flowers
at my brother’s grave,
I think to make folded birds
across a sea of black openness.

The door I enter through
welcomes wanderers of all kind.
The strangest bird can still fit
through the door even when
it is walking slow or fast— even
if it only remembers that once it was a bird,
with no hands, and a memory
of where a tree in the world is not blind.

Am I the only one
who lets my pain hear itself,
the only one
who has the burden
of knowing sunlight
and being myself
in the dark.