Blessings Over the Bodies of My Father’s Murderers

May your mothers find you whole. May the sky hold
your bodies unbroken as the light before the flood.


May our makers never demand we row out
beyond the deluge. May their every promise


hold. May moonlight replace the flash and howl
of the alarms. May the water tenders sluice the fires


to mud and mist before nightfall, may the switchboard
hold the calls. May the cranes hollow their burrows


in the wet earth, may their hooks graze the loose
fists of your ribcage. May they lift your fingers


gentle as the hands of your mothers. May the coroners
recover the horned rungs of your vertebrae whole


and not scattered here in the oil slick, buried
there in the singed grasslands. May they ladder you


away like the strands of DNA helixed to arrest
dissolution, may they wind you back to your separate


bodies. May the dome of heaven refit the arced
continents of your skulls, may your bones find their way


out of evidence. May your mothers slack your hold
may they gather your knuckles loosed from the tusk


handles and bury your knives clean. May you unslash
his throat. May your mothers cut you from this earth


whole. May we wake to any given morning anywhere
but here in this burning field, extinguished and whole.

Rachel Rothenberg was born in Edison, New Jersey. She holds degrees in English and Lusophone literatures from Tufts University and Brown University and is currently a doctoral candidate in creative writing at the University of Rhode Island. She is the 2023 winner of the Greg Grummer Poetry Contest, and her work is featured or forthcoming in phoebe, About Place Journal, Harbor Review, Crab Creek Review, and Salt Hill. She is the Senior Associate Editor at Barrow Street Press.