Okla Elliott is an assistant professor at Misericordia University. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a certificate in legal studies from Purdue University. His work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, Subtropics, and elsewhere, as well as being included as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2015. His books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Pope Francis: The Essential Guide (nonfiction, forthcoming).
The Granite Family
With impossible slowness, day by day, in the heatless sun
of autumn, the members petrify. It is unknown
whether there was ever true love here. I want
to believe there was. There is, without a doubt, true hate.
This is no tragic tale; it happens every day,
is an everyday occurrence everywhere on this green
and rocky Earth.
Their blood flows like a stone now.
We walk among them, weaving between their unmoving
limbs, outstretched in silent pleas to shatter
their frozen logic, to unlock their unbending attitudes.
This morning a small child
of indeterminate sex
signaled to me with tiny hands:
Come and see!
ppppppppppppppI walked languidly
along the cracked red-brick alleyway
to where the child stood.
Tiny hands held a tiny chalkboard
on which the Greek word τραῦμα
was written. Trauma.
pppppppppppppppppppThe child spit
on the green slate
and smeared it illegible with the loose sleeve
of a tattered shirt.
When I returned home later that evening,
the corpse of a dirty pigeon
lay on the steps of my apartment building
like a broken angel,
like the corpse of a dirty pigeon.