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November 20, 2014 | Poetry

3 Poems

Jessica Tolbert

3 Poems photo

Death in the Family

my car scraped you and your bike alongside the highway,

in the grade below me over at the public high school
edged off the median at just the wrong second I was

yards away the officer’s hand warm on my shoulder
the evidence in my favor
(too fast to brake to change course to alter
your companion swears she saw me pause


it was noted that your diary read you knew someday you would die.)

The look on your father’s face when he opened the door at the wake.

I remember the half moon of blood on your forehead.


You should know I’ve felt pregnant
inhabited
carrying you along with me.

I offer you daily sacrifices
stock up on fresno chilis and red mustard greens
Korean salted shrimp sauce
a little bright green minari.


I splash hot oil
on my hands
breathe through the scald

 

learned to make dishes that induce
a pain so clean I can see clear through to
the other side.

 


Beware Your Only Friend

Look, we are in the desert
shadows are long, surrounded by places
where they let you smoke inside


You should nap, I will pace
the sky like a downturned bowl
rocks leave dragging scratch marks in shadow


Look, I still have that voicemail you left
the panic is palpable, solid and greasy
I listen to it again


You ask if the measures taken were too extreme
I had been on the new drugs a week
there had been drymouthed dawns on jungle gyms


We drank inky rum in a locked garden
toes caught on concrete through urban sprawl
furniture stores, discount DVDs, Walgreens


Tonight we are in a tent in rocky sand
there is a taco truck down the road
we begin pilgrimage and rejoice. 

 

Tradition

I wanted
to go home with you
all over again
when I saw the bottle of Cymbalta on your nightstand.


          (kindred spirit do not lead me astray!)


You had gone to find something
rummaged til you found an apple


washed it, dried it off,
like a parent might


me still in bed, covers up to my chin.


          (I am shaking, Lord, possessed
          by holy waves of thick
          blood & salt)


We lay under the covers and passed
the apple back and forth
alternating bites.


          (& the ninth plague was anger &
          the tenth impulsivity)


And you, all lunatic pillow talk
and a Scotch-Irish nose

 

image: Tara Wray


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