by Janine Certo
Squint at the barred owl, then race down
the steep hill of your childhood. You lost
the dog but found your grandmother
who drank a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Shake
her ten times. Prepare a fine cheese, sliced peach,
hazelnuts. Drizzle with honey. Slide it under
the bed to the monster. Hear the crack in a mother’s
voice who says it would be so easy to go down
to the garage, turn the ignition on. What will you do with all this
moonlight on the pond, at once galaxy, scattered photons,
shards of glass? If you want to know Truth, see
the Pope’s Swiss Guard cursing at tourists,
throwing stones at pigeons in the square. Play a game
of Chase the Trees for leaves like wine in a human
heart—darker than the blood it pumps, the beating silence
in those hours cleaning after they took away
your father’s body. I tell you, we cannot say love
enough times. The vacuum’s defective, so it sings.
Write until the sage & fir candle kills the smell
of the wall’s rotting mouse. Look over your
shoulder for the child you never had, the sibling
you left in the front yard, the dog returning, bread
in her mouth. Revisit title. Now your words are the
loose parts of a rocking chair, the longing for meadow—
some ground of consciousness, what the philosopher
called the dialectic of inside-outside. And when you’re
close, smear the shapes of ghosts. Draw grief a warm bath.
Lately, there is little spring or fall, but keep the large bright
mum in its pot until the flowers are dull, their necks broken.
Janine Certo is the author of In the Corner of the Living, first runner-up for the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. Her poetry is published in Mid-American Review, Crab Orchard Review, The National Poetry Review, Italian Americana, and elsewhere. She is also author of the book Children Writing Poems: Poetic Voices in and out of School (Routledge, 2018). She is currently an associate professor at Michigan State, and she lives in East Lansing with her husband and rescued lab-weimaraner. Website: certojl.wixsite.com/mysite.