Estrangement Is a Bitter Fruit;

Or, Why I Couldn’t Watch Poetry Become History at LV

by Jen Karetnick

Departing during the Super Bowl, or any football game, really, perhaps at
its halftime, is how my brother might have wanted to die, had I asked him that

summer, the final one in the Keys, on a vacation when we tried to re-
surface our relationship as if it were a road. But ice had bit in so deeply to

my overwintered body, I never thought to ask if illness felt the same to him.

Back in our corners of the country, we gathered the spices, the herbs, the citrus
zests of our fundamental disagreements into a singular distillation, one that by

itself wasn’t enough of a spell until acted upon by siblings. We were too much
like each other or we weren’t. We loved each other or we didn’t. When this kind of

a violent plucking occurs, all growth stutters to a stop. Still I tend that lime, this
lemon, even though they never fully ripen, giving me only astringent, prosaic pith.

Jen Karetnick‘s fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020), a CIPA EVVY winner, an Eric Hoffer Poetry Category Finalist, and a Kops Fetherling Honorable Mention. She is also the author of Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023).  Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has had work in The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, Poet Lore,, and elsewhere. See


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