The West Wood

Cecelia Vieira


It’s autumn now, and that means
mum petals are swirling,
collecting and pooling in small lagoons
around the mailbox

My mother kneels before them,
scooping handfuls into tight piles
Her breasts are heaving
Her belly’s swollen with my brother

She can’t find the strength to rise,
she’s so fat with writhing child,
so she stays sitting on the asphalt
I stare from the kitchen

There’s something wrong; she hangs too low
I hear the hum of the refrigerator,
the buzz of flies against the window screen
I find ways to justify my unease

It’s autumn now, and trees are restless,
disgorging mounds of red upon the streets
I’ve heard that this is beautiful,
but I know dying when I see it


Cecelia Vieira is a Philadelphia-based writer originally from Andover, Massachusetts. She received a national Scholastic Art & Writing award for original reporting, and her work has been recognized with the Charles Snow Burns Poetry Prize and the John Horne Burns Prize for Fiction, among others. She currently studies Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and is working on a collection of short fiction.