The Anthology 

what is missing can only
be known by what remains

By Erin Sharkey

There is a practice for everything good in this life. --Nikky Finney

Say it. Press the very tip of your tongue
to your most sensitive place,

just behind your gap, your ivory stones.
The difficult part is what follows—

go loose and let a cathedral
grow there, a moment, before,

making a sieve, a narrow tunnel of air,
and feel every nerve of it

giving back, slowly
a thanksgiving for the opportunity

to hold amorous in your mouth and then
find another, watch the choreography of their lips,

throat and breath. And then another, whose roof
and tongue and flesh brighten.


In your bedroom, plant a garden bed.
Anticipate the firm white cold,

and plant crocus bulbs. Tulips, iris and gladiolus.
Then when the soil is dark with spring,

open the curtains, let the shine brighten your pillows,
let the birds watch for what comes.

Let your altar be for what altars are meant,
hands to hold your life’s offerings,

the best of your treasures in prayer, song,
a balm to soothe.

Gather your family, brand new friends, and those unsure
those onions will flower—assure them purple is coming.

Cheer the persistent poking up,
even through the crush.

                                                                        See your beloved everywhere.

What is missing can only be known by what remains.