by Nikki Zielinski
…battered monuments to what was but is no more.
At first, she’d been glad the cats had survived,
setting out what little milk she could find
to draw them close. Now, their glowing eyes
in the dark unnerve her more than the lights
that flicker on & off inside the charred,
abandoned houses or the ragged sounds
of buzzards squabbling in blackened backyards.
She’s found her neighbors’ bones, scattered or bound
like bouquets in mouldered cloth, but will not sleep
unless her doors are locked nor undress
before an open window—still keeps
a knife beneath her pillow, though no one’s left
to hurt her. No one’s left to break in.
She’s safer now than she has ever been.
NIKKI ZIELINSKI‘s poems appear in the Cincinnati Review, Meridian, Southern Humanities Review, Sou’Wester, Vinyl, PANK, and elsewhere. Since completing her MFA at the University of Oregon, she has received prizes and fellowships from Djerassi, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, Bridport Arts Centre, and Sitka Center, among others. A 2014 recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, she lives in Cleveland.