19 These Are the Things You’ll Want to Take with You When You Leave Family Baggage Behind
1. Nephews who graduate from rubber dinosaurs to transforming robots; or who cook; or who joined the Marines.
2. Nieces who once collected clown dolls; or beat you at Scrabble; or threatened to bite the stupid out of a boy.
3. The only photo of all five of your brothers, semi-grown, at Franklin Park, coincidentally all dressed in blue and white.
4. The older sisters-in-law who loved being Black and loved you too despite your “flat face” and the freckles of dead White ancestry.
5. Your grandmother’s “Screw you!” spirit; and hand-crocheted doilies; and “Hurrah! That’s where you belong!” when you got accepted to a women’s college for grad school.
6. The secret pie recipe, from a hand-typed cookbook some lady at work gave to Daddy before you were born.
7. 8 siblings, 1 cousin, two parents (“Simmer down back there!”), piled into the powder-blue station wagon on the way to a picnic–with hard-boiled eggs and the big red and white thermos with the little press spout.
8. Your father’s full laugh as he read poetry; or his half-lensed brow, wrinkled over astrology or Caesar.
9. The ribbons sent in cards even when it wasn’t your birthday, from your big sister at Pembroke College.
10. Forgiveness for the relatives who inspired your parents to elope before your light-traveler life could begin.
18 May We Borrow One of Your Pens?
17 Manufactured Light
Removed for submission!
The River is too far today, in the April raw
that gives home a bad reputation. But the sky
feels mercy and brings water here, sprinkled
subtly on a Monet umbrella camouflaged by
the newly greening trees. The walk produces
a bit of frost, but not the sort one hopes will
melt away soon. This should be sad, so not
like Brighton, where the train stops seem
ill-named. But just thinking of the reservoir,
Lake Street, riverside, inspires legs to move,
heart to pump, voice to spur itself, I think I can.
I know you will. You can go home again.
[Prompt: A toponym. Don’t ask me; it’s complicated.
It’s a poem with the name of a place, blah, blah.
The name sorta has two meanings, blah, blah.
Ex. Shanghai n.; shanghai v. Worse than word problems.]
15 Life Force
over her shoulder,
just a wishboned stick
to point at clumps
of earth during
extremely dry, mounded
by a desire to drink.
She never dug,
never even nudged
the tiniest stone.
That might remove
Besides, her mouth always