Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3 is now online. Enjoy new poems by M. Ross Henry, Carmen Germain, Catherine Moore, Erin Rodoni, Sarina Bosco, Diana Smith Bolton, SarahJordan Stout, Christina Seymour, Jan Bottiglieri, Sara Henning, Allison Joseph, Corrie Williams Kentner, Anthony Botti, Kathleen Brewin Lewis, Doug Ramspeck, Elise Gregory, Julia Bouwsma, Knud Sorensen (Translated by Michael Goldman), Jess Williard, Adam Penna, Jennifer Stewart Miller, Katie Manning, Eloisa Amezcua, Givhan Jennifer, Ann E. Michael, Simon Perchik, Sara Biggs Chaney, Jacqueline Balderrama, Alessandra Bava, Tina Richardson, and Alina Stefanescu. Reviews of Spencer Reece, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Anne Marie Macari by David Seter, Corrinne Adams, and Cindy Snow.
It was a long time since my parents tucked
me in at night and kissed me. But it was a long
time too since I counted not sheep (what
did I know about sheep?) but carlights passing
over the ceiling, and until I was ten I slept alone.
Then my brother got afraid and my father knocked
the wall between us down. At night, even now,
a middle aged man, I hear the sound of that hammer
through sheetrock, the soft give of it, and the
discovery in my ten-year-old mind that what holds
us up surrenders to force. Not long after that
the wall went back up because I was a teenager
and needed to be alone. Lesson two: growing up
means being alone, and my brother found the change
more unbearable even than my mother, who cried
and punched her way into our lives, the way I’m sure
I saw a calf punch through his mother’s womb to
be birthed into water. That’s what you call a baby whale,
a calf, and they swim in pods. My brother and I
were calves and we swam all night in a dream
around the humongous bodies of our parents. When
we were old enough to separate, we did, and he moved
to Chicago and I as far east as this island goes, except
the lighthouse throws its beam out into the waves.
Look at the seals duck under the swell. And farther east
the lonely adult whale breaches, ecstatic, happy.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3.
See all items about Adam Penna
When I went out into the shed to find the shears
my father had sent me to find, I also found the dark
of sheds, a more significant shear, and stepped into it
the way you might wade into a pool at night, not afraid
entirely but cautious unless you step on something sharp,
a roofing nail jarred from its box, the tine from a pitchfork
lying where it shouldn’t be, propped up by a rock.
The spades, the square-nosed shovel, the lawnmower blades,
and the moldy smell of cardboard rotting. I understood
one thing: to get out with my life I’d have to hold my breath.
It feels like drowning to be fetching from confusion
something sure, specific, sharp, inherited like fate,
passed down from father to son, in the genes, unavoidable.
I think of Emerson and his definition of temperament,
which means literally well-mixed like darkness and light,
when the door has been chocked open by a heel kicked back
and a bright trapezoid cuts the night into identifiable shapes.
They aren’t geometrical. They’re something greater, suggesting
with a gesture how close the stars are to us really
and how, like us, they are traveling as far away from birth
as possible. In the dreams I would dream later, older,
I brought those shears to him and smiled, but we all know
how unsatisfying the occasion is, which brings us from the dark
with only what we went searching there to find.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.