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Winter 1996, Volume 13.1

Poetry

 

Jared Winston Hickman


Jared Winston Hickman is a student of English and American Literature at Bowdoin College and a participant in the 1994 Writers at Work Conference. "memorial day: brigham city, 1993" is his first publication.

 

memorial day: brigham city, 1993

past the spruces at the
  mantua port of entry.
 past the junkyard
   & florist.
  may, noon, with air
   like bath water, coiled around
the manicured cherry boughs
 & the ghosts of masons
  at the lutheran chapel.

    grandma skulks like
   a slack-throated bullfrog,
    her skin like
     tissue paper.
   & she never comes,
but leaves us with
   "he's a good-looking black boy,"
      as if he were a
        sideshow novelty.

      narrow roads
      like dust funnels lead to
     the guarded orchard shade
      of the cemetery,
     eden's lattices.
innocence without a Fall.

  & I roll down
 the windows & try to shout
    to the children in the
   chocolate-channeled ditch,
watching them set start & finish lines
  between graves &
      broken-scented boughs.

      buckets & curtains
    of water veil epitaphs, tears.
        & we move steady
          without aching, past
john vandersteen: anesthetist & vocalist.
 of his chrysanthemums
 grandpa says "they just
      keep flowering, always flowering."
  & white crosses glare,
 a loud litany for pilots,
    the young dead,
 in a final, harsh shine.

 uncle gary sold his
 soul in vietnam.
I've only seen him once
 in salt lake, behind
  closed doors. his
 eyes were like broken
  globes of starlight.

  dead peonies &
 "no wires in the grass."
   & my sisters take note
    of odd names
   like Blackburn & Gleeve,
   and run three times
      for luck around
     the obelisk headstone.

 somehow the
 strokes of breeze are
  heavy-handed, &
   I bow my head,
     trying to keep my
heart beating, closing my eyes
 as grandpa points
  out his & grandma's
    already up
      headstone.

 

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