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A LONG-AGO ENCOUNTER WITH A
MAN WHO I JUST FOUND OUT BY
INTERNET HAS BEEN DEAD SINCE
2006

Listen to the Poem

I liked the way the butter melted on the rolls. “Oh
Come Let Us Adore Him” with choral backing piped
through the speakers. Christmas lights sparkled over
the bar and a lighted Christmas tree decorated one of
the docks. The deserted rides at Cedar Point had
lights, too, and they twinkled in the distance. Later,
we went for a stroll because it was warm for the
season. Everything had an echo, the sea gulls’
laughter, their wings beating low over the tranquil
water, a dog, far away, barking at its own bark.

– Theresa Williams’s poems and stories have appeared in The Chattahoochee Review, Hunger Mountain, Gargoyle, The Sun, and other magazines. Her novel, The Secret of Hurricanes, was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize.

 

To the Child We Never Wanted
Listen to the Poem

When we met,
we knew we did not want you.
I lacked both the emptiness
and the room
necessary for you.
He lacked the feel of a father
and the patience
someone like you would require.

When we married,
we married late,
and we knew we did not need you.
We had work to do and places to travel
and people to finish becoming. There was no space
for your rattles and rocking.

And yet we named you.
In long car rides. On Sunday afternoons.
Family names, like William and Nora and Ann.
Names we liked—Inara and Micah and Cecilia.
Names for people your not-yet mom loved: Langston and Lillian and Zora.
Those names dwindled and disappeared
becoming the pudgy fingers
and pleading cries of our friends’ children.
No matter, we thought,
because still, we did not need you.

It was June
three years later—
hot, hazy, and languid–
when we realized
the spare room
in the house we bought
never would work as an office.
Perhaps, we thought, it was your room,
full of sunlight and shade, love and luster.
An idea of you was born—
small and secret and surprising.
(Your eyes would be blue. You would be left-handed.
You would have my love of reading and his love of adventure.)
So we opened the door,
called your name quietly,
and waited.

There are names for the syndromes and symptoms
that will keep you forever out of reach,
But those names are neither William nor Nora, not Micah nor Zora.

You are the child we never wanted.
And we are calling your name softly,
full of the emptiness and the room, the fatherliness and the feeling.
But no amount of patience will bring you forth.
Oh, sweet, soft, silly child we never wanted:
We miss you.

– Meredith Malburne-Wade is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Gettysburg College where she teaches composition and literature. She holds a PhD in 20th-Century American Literature from UNC Chapel Hill. New to the realm of writing and publishing poetry, she is nonetheless a devoted lover of the written word.

 

Shacondage

I no longer remember the true name of the Blue Ridge.
My blood memory

sinks when I hear you say “They eat people here.”
You tear at the I.V.
You taste chocolate pudding from the spoon I hold up
to your beard stubbled but two-year-old’s grin.

and I smile when I say
You cannot know this yet, but in just one month
you will write two words on the scratch pad
I hold steady. Your words will be “mom” and “scared.”

And by spring, you will feel sweat dripping
from your temples
as you concentrate, trying so hard to grasp
that single cat-eye marble with your toes
and lift its terrible weight just one inch above the floor.

But I will tell you again that the stones we are chosen to lift
are only the old bones of the ancestors, who whisper
tendons of strength.

Even now, each word I speak calcifies
talus, tibia, femur, mandible, ribs.

– Eliza Kelley is an Associate Professor at The Sage Colleges in New York. Eliza’s published research, writing, and art appears in national and international venues. Her book, Taming the Butterfly, will be published by Cawing Crow Press in November 2015.

 

Suhareka, in August

Five Albanian kids in their underwear
stand in front of a blow up swimming pool.
Green, pried opened walnut fruits
are piled on the table in front of me.
All the nuts had been dug out and eaten.
Adults speak rapidly in Kosovar-Albanian.
I follow for a while and then get lost.

A bee has found its way into a forgotten cup of Sola fruit punch.
I watch as it nears the juice, not as cautious as it should be,
quickly siphoning the sweet liquid.
It can’t possibly be anything but good.
The bee slips into the juice,
at first not realizing
that it won’t be able to get back out.
It bathes itself and rolls over,
abdomen turned toward the sky, wings soaked.
There is no going back now.
The realization comes slowly and then the bee is frantic,
backstroking in circles,
slowly sinking lower each time.
Round and round and round it goes,
drowning in the sweetness.

My name is called, and I turn my head.
One of the children races by, bumping the table as he passes.
The cup falls over.
The juice and the bee spill out.
Someone is speaking to me, but I am distracted
by a half-drowned bee
crawling through the grass.

– Elizabeth Endara grew up in Lilburn, Georgia and received a Bachelor’s in English from Georgia State University in Atlanta. She now makes her home in Suhareke, Kosovo where she teaches English and Ballet.

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