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Sarah Kerrigan

Unfinished


The pulse of wing against my cheek

Startled me from the book

I was reading: A Book of Luminous Things.

So quick and close it came

I think, this bird did not see me.


I Iooked, but

She had become again

A thread in the universal blanket,

And the poem was interrupted

Before I could discern its meaning.

Leaving me

Obsessed

Obessing


Who was this bird and what was happening

When she came close enough to kiss?

Was she running, oblivious?

Did the rustle, thump of her breast

form a sentence?

Will she tell her children hushed,

I found her, the ogre.

Nearly brushed against her rolling eye.

Will she shiver in disgust.


Like sweet tea, like whiskey,

I’d take it.


As it is, the poem splayed open

On my lap, on its back,

Its mouth agape and

Shallow breathing;

It stares at nothing,

Nothing that I can see.


Nothing at all

that I can see.



Baby Land


The speed limit on Industrial Avenue is 25 miles per hour;

A knife that slices too slowly

Between the cemetery and the golf course,

Where everyone appears equally

White and dead as I drive home.


On the days I get stuck behind an obedient driver

My knuckles turn white, too,

As I prefer to race ahead,

Follow too close and curse and

Wonder for the gazillionth time,

What if I just crossed

That double yellow line.


There is no guardrail; I might

Crash head first into the ditch,

Through the windshield fly

Singing, last ever song, pink foam

Splatter from my lips, wishing

The score was something else;

Jeff Buckely’s Hallelujah instead

Of some top 40 hit.


One in May I’m again furiously

Abiding the rules of the road

When I see the sparkling pinwheels,

Tiny flags, pink and blue bouquets,

Circling outward from the stone

Plaque I am always trying not to read,

Which reads, “Baby Land.”

There is no God, I think

For the gazillionth time.


Could be a head-on collision,

Always that chance. Their pink foam

On my jeans, my white

T-shirt. In the moment I can’t

Name the song still serenading

The empty cabin, but surely I will dream

Of it, wake up each day with its name

Receding back into my marrow,

A snake into its den.


Not even a statue of some concrete angel

Pretending to keep watch,

Not even a bench to sit and imagine

What they might say, just

Little headstones on display,

Exposed to me and every other asshole

Just trying to get home.

I hit the gas.

Don’t we all just want to get home?


Third option: Grit teeth.

Grip wheel. Open wide for

The asphalt. Take the whole

Damn road down my throat.

L.E.S. Artistes on repeat.

Never blink. Drink all the black

Coffee. Bury the rearview in

Crystals and Mardi Gras beads.

Fill the backseat with paper-

Backs and old notebooks

I’ll write in over and over, until the pages

Disintegrate beneath the

Deep blue ink.


The winter after I’ve chosen,

The heater’s on too high

And everything is buried in snow, so

I cannot see the lines and

There is no way to pass and

Nowhere to go but slowly,

Yet in my wake,

The Avenue’s flayed;

Drops of blood, torch red,

Flush the spaces,

I yank down my scarf and

Open the window to let in

The cold and no, the dead

Are not singing, I’ve turned off

The radio just me and the wind

And the cold, blessed avalanche,

Licks the hollow of my throat

Making me grin

Making me squint

Making me see


Oh bluest of blue skies

broken only by

the branches of

A great White Pine


Dancing over all of them


Dancing over all of me.

 

Sarah Kerrigan lives in Minnesota with her partner and two daughters. She has worn many hats in her life, including dog-washer, waitress, and prosecuting attorney, but she has always, always felt most at home in the world when she was writing.





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