Excerpt from Red of Split Water, a burial rite by Lisa Donovan


Lisa Donovan was a finalist in the 2014 FIRSTS! Contest with her manuscript Red of Split Water, a burial rite. This long hybrid text uses fractured memoir and elliptical address to make meaning from loss while refusing to impose reconciliation.



From Red of Split Water, a burial rite



Dear         ,

In the lush outlining of mountains I’ve called you up at daybreak. It is morning time in a way no light and without its glistening in intervals of dried needles—her floor-cover. Between pines not here, beyond and of a black handwritten outline. A sharp down stroke enters then exits this page.

You are a picture and I’m not a living total. In the purple you know the bruise, the blue strikes the violet and pinks. There is a wall, it’s true, but I’ve shifted the image out of condition. Here is the remainder.

Look, the water here glistens under fire. It’s a plant-life, animal life. Some things here experienced solely in sound. Here, touch sky texture, a vein rhythm and its branching. Do you know what blood may haunt you?







I haven’t told you of the boy as pyro. He sets thing to flame and catches. Is never caught. Maybe there’s more here but not enough for spitting at



I’m building parallels, maybe enough relationships of vulnerability or simplicity to please—shift the story from blister to an opening, awakening, release.






The father, his vehicle in the sun. Yellow with spots of rain and dust collected on the windshield, a hand smudge across the top. This his last wish



My ancestor burden is like a sinking remains, out of admiration of my father his approval and reel, motion was a fine unsteadily and where breath was. Lost swimmer it was the world in an unemphasized position, a stay that got too heavy used in all masculine ages. Under flame as long as the demonstrative and extended form is—a trick of science grasped at in excess, slow in a tangle of difficulties like that water separated more crimes acquired by study into its heaviest division, closer to what’s desired parts, or all the dark correspondence. Extended from form, matter, the unknown weight root from of the universe, wed, detach, make ready the fading of inflection into a house, gathered






This is a warning and a prayer, to see the current as it spills. It spills



The body is set to water and doesn’t float.








Lisa Donovan holds a PhD from the University of Denver’s Creative Writing program, and a MFA from Brown University. Among other things, Lisa enjoys spending time with her dog, Beatrice, a rottweiler.

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