by Chanel Brenner
​©2020 Filip Goubert                                                                       
IG: @filip_goubert
Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: a memoir told in poems( Silver Birch Press, 2014) which was a finalist for the 2016 Independent Book Awards and honorable mention in the 2014 Eric Hoffer awards. Her poems have appeared in RattleRaleigh ReviewSpoon RiverNew Ohio ReviewMuzzle MagazineBarrow StreetSalamander, and others. Her poem, “Apology,” won first place in the Smartish Pace Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. 
What We Choose to Believe

All of Spain feels the infinite sadness of Julen’s family. 
—Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

They’ve survived a year
in the black hole of grieving—

their three-year-old son’s
death from a rare heart condition.

I’ve lost a young son too,
and know the depth 

of their sorrow’s chasm.
They’re spooning paella on plates 

for a picnic, when they hear
their two-year-old son screaming,

as he falls into an actual hole,
an abyss sized just for him.

Days later, rescue crews 
drill through rock— 

but most likely he is smothered in dirt
and broken, 

though his mother wants to believe 
he is cradled whole in a blanket of air.

If it’s true there is a God up there,
help him please, 

she posts on day three,
with a photo of a sleeping baby.
When rescuers reach him
ten days later,

I can only be grateful
he didn’t survive

the two hundred-foot fall
to die slowly of injury,

hunger, and dehydration—
both of Victoria and Jose’s sons

in the same black hole
with my dead son,

whole only in their mothers’
grief, another word for love. 

All three smothered in dirt
but cradled by a word

in a blanket of air—

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