By Emily Nason
I’ve taken communion in horse troughs
and creeks and off the back of a stamp licked
by the boy I love, and still I have nightmares.
Like this: every person I forgot to send
a thank-you note to brings it up the next time
I see them. Like this: the cicadas haven’t hatched
when they said they would. Years escape us.
Ancestral cattle herding calls, whole choirs
of Ozark harps, cotton looms starting to spin.
Splash of kerosene. Mildewed family photos,
faces burned out. Like this: I’m crouched
in the kitchen, watching my grandmother
throw a jar of Duke’s Mayonnaise against
the wall. And then she mops it up and repeats.
Same jar. I roll the stone up the hill,
and by stone I mean the rendered red roux,
and by hill, I mean the blackened pot.
My grandmother again, rehab parking lot,
threatening to kill herself, backing down
last minute by saying, I wouldn’t do that
to y’all even though you test me. Like this:
I date a man who buys instant grits.
Like this: Lindsey Graham. Copper chicken
wire of a welt around my thigh, no clue how
it got there, and a roomful of questions.
In the back of the country store, I sit and watch
my legs dangle from thick fishing hooks, two more
fatty thighs to cure and sell. Strawberry Moon.
Sturgeon Moon. Worm Moon. A night sky
with all three. My grandmother wakes me up
to look at them. She reminds me that I’m like her:
last to leave this long party, eyes shucked open.
Emily Nason is from Columbia, South Carolina and has an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. Her poetry has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere.
Originally appeared in NOR 29