found in dynamite. A rocking chair and
the story from my aunt Jane
where she woke on a table, age 6
her drunk father’s fat face inches
above hers. Here the story is vague—
because vagueness is a form of preservation. Her mama
shot him dead as a doornail. That gun
in that rocking chair will do. Also,
add the broken voice of my grandma-
her stroke raped language, but add her
aww, baby, shit, figger and other mumblings
doe eyes that told me everything when
her lips always failed. Add a blue Kentucky
sweatshirt—locked away in some evidence locker
a November night ground into a shoulder blade. Also,
that willow where human charms
hung from her branches. Then a sheet
and a baseball bat and cross stitch him in. Answer the phone
always pulled from the wall. A wail in the night
of “Run, Susie, run!” Reconciliation in the morning
over a cup of black and then again. Drop this
in the keg and run the line sure to blow this time around.
As I undress, I take the moon
out of my hair. In reflected light,
rewrite myths. Seven sisters—
each a whisper in the gibbous light.
The metal against my skin—
a prescription of repose. I close
my eyes to its beautiful desolation. A boy
I gave birth to once stands at my right
shoulder blade. He blames the moon
for his unquenched love—his empty palms.
He scours the terrain, dust
grit in his teeth; his boot-prints the greatest
The men are no longer speaking
of God—the search for the Ark
called off due to heartache. All those terrible,
terrible animals in the ebb and flow
of a merciful deity. The cries
in the moonless night—
a silent taxi-ride until in all her
fullness, we are forced out.
The clouds shift. I take a cigarette in my foreign
hand—cratered out from the living
and congratulate us all.
"There are so many shiny objects that detract from real living. To be present means to take notice and act. The poem is action—the anger, the beauty, the desolation."
Andrea Gilham received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently resides in Mount Vernon, Indiana, with her husband and two children.