Shape Note / by Lily Greenberg

To the cousin who I never knew,
who will slip any moment now,
from coughing to not—you are
real, irrefutable.

To the goat who thought he was
a dog, who pushed his innocent 
head into my hand and licked the 
salt from my palm—you
are real, piercing.

To the man with the dying lungs
who told me through his own cloud that I was 
too young to exhale synthetic haze,
you are real, verbose.

To the evergreen that provokes
endless cursing from my mother,
coupled with our laughter,
as she forces the tree into an upright
position—you are real, vivid. 

To the needle that eroded my sister,
who I never knew but always 
saw, the state of mind that engraved
dark rings along her visage—you are real,

Each time I pinch the skin that covers 
my forearm’s blue veins, and pause to
watch the ruby patch spread,
I join you in song.