Issue 3 / Poetry

Poetry by Amber Shockley

Virgin Sacrifice

When we heard Jeremy died by fire, heaven hit hard.

Sunday school’s rules and rumors rolled over us –

the idea that now he could see us, hear us,

know all that we thought. Terrifying,

and too much power for a boy’s soul;

just yesterday he was a Boy Scout.

But maybe that’s the reward for feeding

your flesh to flames: clairvoyance.

Still, I stuffed my stuffed bear under

my belly each night, thought

dirty thoughts, and mean ones.

Everyone wanted in on the greedy grief,

bereavement better than birthday candles.

His friends and loves, survivors

all stars of the sympathy show.

One in particular, a girl with

blonde hair, we envied and bowed

to her sovereignty, her spectacular,

special sadness. We imagined

them at first base, their braces clinking.

She walked the halls now a preteen queen,

adjusted her royal garments,

a forever pallbearer. Yet

we grew up, we got over.

Another classmate car-crashed

just before graduation, a granny

finally gave up the ghost,

but no more unseemly deaths,

no more of God’s strange requests –

enough: one child into the volcano mouth.


Amber is a failed high-school English teacher, a burlesque dancer on hiatus, and a poet living with her mother in South Carolina. She received her MFA in Poetry from Queens University of Charlotte in 2013. Her goal for her poetry is to display both insight and compassion. Selected by Michelle Penaloza.

Image © Luke Price via Flickr Creative Commons.