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March 25, 2024 Poetry

2 Poems

Aurora Shimshak

2 Poems photo

Palinode with Stepmom and 1960s White Jesus

Jesus, in her VHS tapes, her toilet-side
water-damaged positive thinking pamphlets.
Jesus, cross-stitched pastoral,
funeral program, picture books, radio.
I sat on the tub’s edge. My punishment,
the potty chair, the stains on the walls.
I pressed my fingers to the holes
on the can of Ajax. Out the window, 
white pines lifted in a fine mist.
If there was a portal, it might as well be his.
Jesus emerging from a rainbow
in the mist. Jesus out the bathroom window
as he looked in that 1960s portrait
cut off below the clavicle
as if he sat for a school photo,
California-tanned, saltwater hair,
gaze of a homecoming king
catching yours from across the hall.
He beckoned. I saw myself
walk through the rainbow
to a warm, lemonade quiet
with sheep—of course there were sheep—
And who’s to say my stepmom
wasn’t an imaginative child?
Dad needed something at Menard’s, 
rode his bike, glued model airplanes.
Dad, away mending fence, conducting
the high school band. Dad with a cello,
a van to fix. I’m softest when I remember
he was gone from her too.
I saw her once in her nightgown,
sitting alone on the bed,
absently rubbing her crucifix necklace.
Twins sleeping, bottles clean.
An unwatched moment of mind, conjuring—
the way we do—a witness.


what the cottonwood said

you’re obsessed with past but can hold so little of it.

if you stood still, what would you like to crawl on you?
stars? done. you could have that.

in the farmhouse you took pictures of yourself in the mirror,
your hands clasped to your cheeks
as if to say you had nothing to be ashamed of.

all your life you’ve been learning this.

go explore the tin cans.
go and pick the clover, velvet at the edge of the field.
return to me the twin cats, the rotting mouse.

grow a leaf by thinking of a childhood you have too many memories of.