Something You Left to Me
This box of apothecary vials with black rubber stops.
A strip of masking tape runs the length of each vial.Scribbled on each strip, the name of a national park:
Zion, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Redwood—nine bottles in all, but you wanted still more
before the thing in your lungs finally killed you.The vials look empty, but I know they’re not—
not because you told me, but because I was there.Each contains air from the park on the label,
air the only stuff you could steal without guilt.You’d hold the vial above your head and explain
how no one can die while surrounded by beauty.Which is why it ended in a machine-filled room,
stifling, falsely lit, encircled by a plastic curtain.Air was all you needed. I should have crawled in,
unstopped the vials, and touched each mouth to your lips.
Copyright © 2018 by Owen McLeod
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Owen McLeod’s first book of poems, Dream Kitchen, won the 2018 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry (judged by Rosanna Warren) and will be published by University of North Texas Press in 2019. His poems have recently appeared in Boulevard, FIELD, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He teaches philosophy, makes pottery, and lives in Pennsylvania. www.owenmcleodpoetry.com
Since 1911, The Yale Review has been publishing new works by the most distinguished contemporary writers—from Virginia Woolf to Vladimir Nabokov, from Robert Frost to Eudora Welty. The journal’s pages have, for almost a century, been filled with the most exhilarating and astute writing of our times. Under the editorship of J. D. McClatchy, himself a prize-winning poet, The Yale Review presents up-and-coming writers, explores the broader movements in American thought, science, and culture, and reviews the best new books in a variety of fields.
“I look forward to The Yale Review because I know I will encounter historians and poets, essayists and reviewers, who will take me on the most intriguing excursions beyond the headlines.”
—Peter Jennings, Broadcast Journalist
“It’s good news that this noble, long-established periodical is back in circulation.”
“The Yale Review, with its distinguished history, is one of the very finest of American literary journals. Its thoughtfully edited contents include both imaginative and critical writing of a very high—and entertaining—order.”
—Joyce Carol Oates