Back to Issue Seventeen.

when they say you can't go home again, what they mean is you were never there

BY MARTY MCCONNELL

 

Maybe it’s time to celebrate the hideous. Not
                 to confess with some hope for absolution,
        but to gather all the terrible selves and minutes
                           and show them the trees, and the way the rain

   has just abated so the air has ocean in it
        though we’re dry and waiting. Part of me died here
                         so another could go on. The body I raised
        and abandoned still walking the path on the hill
                                where I became larger than myself and the day

        could no longer contain me. Turns out, dust
                 can also recompose itself, a starfish arm
       or lizard tail. What I cut off kept walking
                               without me, remembering the fireflies
                on the broad lawn and plastic cups

                in dormitory basements, the tea house
          and everything I made sure to forget
                    or shamelessly left in pursuit of the shining
next. I wish I could say everything I’ve done

                          and still be loved. I believe it is possible,
                  if I could remember it all and give it
              mouth, neglected teeth, tongue, the ways
                           I’ve learned to breathe as if I were always
                          singing. I feel this enormous debt to the world

     for letting me exist and do all the damage
                          my living requires. I’m hungry
          and the tea is cold, the hill is a hill
      no matter who I am. It will take a long time
                          to say the everything, and already

                  some are turning away. It’s hard
          work, witnessing at a birth. Blood
                  everywhere, and the awful quiet
                between the screaming. You can bring

          your everything too, we’re making
       the dirt arable again, we’re burying
                our shit like animals do and tomorrow
            there will be a garden ringed
                                with lemon trees though by then 

           we’ll be on our way gone. For luck,
                   afterbirth under the single poplar.
                            All the stopping and starting, interruptions
                   of prayer. Language as vehicle
                                     and impediment. All the lives

     before this one, practice. Is that a castle
                  in your elbow? My clavicle’s made
         of mud. I’m trying to tell you
                                   about my fear. A door opening

        in another room. The way light changes
                          after rain, the air around a body after sweat.
      I’m not finished yet. Somebody
                                   kiss me now, right on the garden.
                                  Everything’s coming up green.  

 

 

McConnell 17

Marty McConnell lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she coaches individuals and groups toward building thriving, sustainable lives and organizations. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2014, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and is forthcoming in Compose and Nashville Review. Her first full-length collection, wine for a shotgun, was published by EM Press.

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