PoetryIssue 03 | February 2009

Gap

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

Gary Jackson was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, smack in the middle of the Midwest. He currently teaches and lives in Albuquerque, NM.  His work has appeared in Inscape, Magma and local chapbooks.

Read our current issue:

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on a wrought iron bench in Bristol by Jamie Donohoe
Ocean Point by Melissa Goodwin
Amaszonas, S.A. by George Guida
Santé by Zoe Karathanasi
Three poems by Athena Kildegaard
Two poems by Jane Kirwan
African Soundscape by Karla Linn Merrifield
Aubade in Transit by Rick Mullin
The Fields of May by James B. Nicola
Igbo Directions in Amsterdam by Uche Ogbuji
High Jumping Silver by Gail Peck
the ground unfurls by Gabrielle Peterson
Two poems by Mike Puican
Byzantium at the Bus Stop; Byzantium at the Mall by Sarah Sadie
Romance by Askold Skalsky
Two poems by Bill Yake

Postcard prose

Before We Let the Hens Out by Emily Avery-Miller
Cheng Man Ch’ing by Douglas Penick

Travel notes

Life Jacket by Margaret McMullan
Hamam by Caroline Swicegood