Poetry by Meredith Stewart Kirkwood
I hardly know myself, he says. He could be a boy on his grandpa’s farm shooting pop cans with a Beebee gun or digging his other grandpa’s grave. He could be my mother’s husband kissing her neck till she squeals and calling her babe. Or my Papa on the drive to Grass Valley we made one spring when I was eight singing country songs with the radio turned up, the grass so green along the highway there couldn’t have been a greener side despite the soundtrack of hard luck and regret. This could be the moment his own dad withdraws him from drama class that dead end in the maze of masculinity. Or his fists could clench against the mid-life stolen morphine, a syringe full of shame. Without the present to tack down a life his mind knows things it doesn’t know. Knows the past is present like the semi-circles that cradle his eyes or the soft spots on his skin once covered with long sleeves now exposed by his hospital gown. Knows a forty year marriage can’t be undone by a court or by changing the locks on the doors. Knows none of these past present-tenses add up to a plot, and knows to be angry but not how to pray for the scooped up wholeness to rise out of every fragment of every past he is present in.
Meredith Stewart Kirkwood’s recent work has appeared in Eastern Iowa Review, Right Hand Pointing, Atlanta Review, Rock & Sling, Windfall, and others. She lives in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Oregon where she co-hosts a poetry reading series at the farmers’ market. Find her on the web at mkirkwoodblog.wordpress.com.