How to Weigh Loss by Charlotte Matthews

two side by side broken see-saws
Vulture City School Playground by Midnight Believer. CC license.


Even though see saws are a thing of the past.
I’ll return to a warm June evening when my brother

and I have walked to the local elementary school.
We seat ourselves on opposite ends, hold onto

the metal handles and rise and descend, one in the air,
the other on the ground, small craters where children

before us have done the same with their feet.
We pull out tangerines we’ve stashed in our windbreakers,

peel them in unison, one of us suspending the other,
trusting a smooth descent. Years later, on an interstate,

he explains how truck scales work, that the driver stops
every so many hundred miles to weigh his cargo,

invisible load he’s been hauling over state lines,
and I wonder if we can counterbalance losing

our parents so abruptly like we did. He taps on
the steering wheel, composing a list of objects

that have identical weights: a toaster
and a human brain, a football and a box of sugar.

Charlotte Matthews
Charlotte Matthews’s memoir, Comes with Furniture and People, was a 2019 finalist for the Indie Book Awards in the category of Women’s Issues. Additionally, she is author of three poetry books, Still Enough to Be Dreaming, Green Stars, and Whistle What Can’t Be Said. Associate Professor at The University of Virginia, her work has recently appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cave Wall, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Ecotone. Her honors include fellowships from The Chautauqua Institute, The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

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