Poetry – Issue 3 | February 2009
by Gary Jackson
Every year, my mother reminds me
to place flowers on my sister’s grave.
On a Thursday, I buy red
and yellow carnations
and baby’s breath. I drive alone.
The oak that grows nearby
has branches low enough to bear
the graves’ shadows.
I do this
for all of us. My sister buried in Topeka.
My mother who left for Dallas. The boy
I used to be who still clings to the years between.
I swore long ago I would never come back.
My mother does not swear,
but bears the same memories that lie beneath
Kansan green, waiting to break open
like rain on concrete. So I become
her emissary. I shoulder her burden.
I drudge down familiar streets, careful
to avoid high school crushes,
teachers, bullies, cousins who never made it out
of the state they were born in.
By the time I’ve pulled onto 21st,
the black iron gates behind,
I think of how there is no real distance
between anything, how Kansas
is always a breath
away. It’s not the grave,
but the memory that pulls.
About the author
Read our current issue:
Two Poems by Mike Alexander
Cremation at Pushupatinath by Bonnie Bishop
Against Travel by Barbara Daniels
The Country by Tonya Ingram
Nocturne by Athena Kildegaard
The Wild Edge by Tim Laffey
Following Belle-Mère by Sarah Lawrence
For You, Good Price by Christopher Locke
Give and Take by Beth McDermott
De Profundis by Rick Mullin
The Highway Christmas Tree Outlet in April by Christine Jessica Margaret Reilly
Dead Reckoning by M. R. Smith
Never Never Land by Wendy Vardaman