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PoetryIssue 3 | 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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Three poems by Emma Aprile
Bulgarian Pantoum by Aileen Bassis
When You Get There by Kate Bernadette Benedict
To Get to Trondheimsfjord by Sue Chenette
The New Place by Sadie Ducet
A Funeral in Zarra by Joe Evans
Port Cities and Pantries by Christine Jones
Boston Graveyards by David Landrum
Morgan’s by Sean J Mahoney
Rats by Alexander Motyl
Tell Me The Road by Michael Pearce
Walls in Warsaw by Michael Sarnowski
Words I have traveled, sadly beyond by Janice D. Soderling
Pale Blues by Lynne Thompson

Postcard prose

Postcard by Marc Harshman
How to Cross the Widest Highway in the World by Maryann Ullmann