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NO MORE YOUNG MOTHERS SMOKING CIGARETTES ON THE PORCH

BY BLAIKE MARSHALL
 

College of Charleston, '17
2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editors List

 

My grandmother planted herself
here among the arrowheads. She dug
her husband out of the marsh—hands
cupped as she washed him. They turned
metal siding into brick. Within the lilies,
she told me to let the earth stain my knees
black like the grease of my grandfather’s
plumbing hands. Now, she tells me
my hair is long, meaning: She misses
when I hid behind the couch, when I sat
devoted upon thrones of pillows, when my
ears shook at the sound of words that
made the seams of wallpaper yellow
and wrinkle, like the severed fingernails
I found below the chipped lip of the
dining room table. She raised me there
until I didn’t want to say grace anymore, until
I didn’t care about why she collected
all fifty license plates or what Alaska
looks like. I mow their yard in the summer,
corner dead leaves in the autumn. Now,
after the fall, she laughs as I clean her stitches
clear. Her Cherokee skin now white
as the filters I found wrapped in tinfoil
under the skirt of her chair. Often,
in my dreams, I break down her hospital bed
with the promise of stripping the screws.
And I wait for her to stand and cut the air.

 

 

Blaike Marshall is a sophomore in his hometown at the College of Charleston, where he is majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. His work appears in Poetry Quarterly.