Sleeping through the chime of each birthday,
one is suddenly startled by the low whimper of mortality,
and the promise that Jesus was not born in December.
Thankfully, a tetanus shot stops you from grieving prematurely.
An ugly child with the face of an old man, you long to mourn anyway.
You paint the disappearance of your parents
in long strokes of hypotheticals, brushes dipped in whiskey.
We are the children of irresponsibility, irreversible damage,
a chip on each shoulder waxed over with daydreams.
We are the bruises mistaken for smudges, as someone continues
to try over and over to wipe us away. I remain hyperaware of time,
thinking of the children I will never birth. These are the hands
you will hold, and this is the face you will comfort.
I plan to meet you between mistakes, the whimper you try to ignore.
The wind is future oriented--
memorizing no moment,waiting for nobody.
Meanwhile, the spider lays her eggs
in dirty laundry, fashions
a nest within the seam
of a favorite shirt.
She considers no one but herself--
not the skeleton that dazzles
the window left behind,
not the danger of this new space.
Strong breath, wind that carries with it
a purpose no other wind has, or does it?
I blow, I evict this family, new and naive--
refugees left to wander, so many of them,
the wind immediately forgetting each one.
Ideas, fermenting, isolated noises--
I pretend I'm caught off-guard, brain cells
evenly distributed, immersed in electric routine
instead of alight with new activity.
But I'm only kidding myself,
drunk all alone in a room half buzzed, half awkward.
By a show of hands, tell me who is soft and who is
ready to lay some goddamn plans on the table.
I know I'm ready. I'm dressed for the occasion,
combat boots laced tightly, cutting off my circulation,
but I know I'm ready. These ideas
are ready. Noises can only be translated when heard.
Bio: Shannon McKeehen is a fresh-faced, second-year creative writing MFA at Mills College, in Oakland, California, USA. She writes often in her poetry blog and otherwise enjoys reading and responding to the work of other writers, young and old. She also enjoys listening to music, painting and drawing, eating, and engaging in heated political debates.
Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017
3 months ago