The Sorting Grounds

by Todd Fredson


We sort the last of our scraps into bins.
Potatoes that are not entirely rotten—
we can’t take anything. I made changes

to my lesson plans, your suggestion
that students finish on their own.
I hold a jug of corn kernels;

you have already unpacked.
My best friend talks to you,
dumping his music collection

like he’s simply switching clothes
washer to dryer at the laundromat.
This is the kind of dream I have learned

to wrestle my way out of. Your body is next to me
and I slide my hand to your navel,
like a pitted olive—something I have sneaked

out of the dream. On the gymnasium steps, the jugs
of kernels have been pushed to one side. I worry
about mine spilling, accidentally seeding the ground.

I worry about the sucking in my chest
when I wake. What good might there be
in this shedding—so completely? To see what our will

will endure? How far we will each trek
into oblivion before…what? Death
is no longer a word I use.

I try to believe that sharing this fear
of separation is fear enough
to bring us back together. Something must

hold us. As gravity becomes anachronism,
as love generalizes. As if keeping you too tightly in this life
means there will be less of you in another.


Read Todd Fredson’s Late Summer: To the Bride, Rain Off the Gulf of Guinea, and Gaunt Pleasures

Or read more poetry in our current issue