An Unnamed Stage of Grief

Brandon Thurman


She was browsing the greeting card section of K-Mart—So Sorry
for Your Loss. Get Well Soon
—when her friend told her the story
about the woman whose swollen tongue had split open,
thousands of baby spiders pouring down over her chin:

“This lady paper-cut her tongue licking an envelope
covered with spider eggs, can you believe it?” Half-listening,
she poked the sharp edge of a greeting card into her thumb—
With Sympathy. It did not seem strange to her that a creature 

could hitch a ride inside another’s body. Every time she laughed,
she could hear her mother’s voice. She suspected that, if she could just
scream, the squirming mass in her belly might jolt loose, black claws
& wings swarming from her lips. A stranger in her body

remembers walking across a bridge the night before she got the news, 
how she had gasped when the black clouds of bats billowed out
from below the beams—stunned by the darkness she did not know
had been sleeping just beneath her feet.



Brandon Thurman is a behavior analyst and poet living in Fayetteville, Arkansas with his husband and son. His poetry can be found or is forthcoming in PANK, Zone 3, Ninth Letter, Glass, DIALOGIST, Noble/Gas Qtrly, and Storyscape. He tweets @bthurman87.