Poetry – Issue 03 | 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 Bonnie Bishop
Outside Ngaoundere by Aaron Brown
Watershed by Catherine Chandler
1955-D and 1945-S by Craig Cotter
Hyacinth by Dylan Crawford
Strays by Judy Darley
Freedom Fries by Krista Genevieve Farris
City Lights, Dirty Window by Janna Layton
The Road to Managua by Wilda Morris
Edinburgh, Alone by Stephanie Papa
Two poems by Eugenia Hepworth Petty
Four poems by Christine Potter
Next to the River by Jeremy Radin
Another Art by Susanna Rich
Five poems from Shoshauna Shy
Three poems by R L Swihart
Two poems by Rimas Uzgiris