Poetry / Kristi Maxwell
:: Hello, detective ::
Rename me the quiet execution of a nail Rename me mouthwork and guesswork Gethsemane, a Sunday in France Rename me no widow Rename me no whited-out error or whittled branch, no wood debris No bereavement Rename me concussion, cocoon, ca-caw, a series of useless birdsong, bird-sound, the brain’s own birth-pain, delivering a thought Rename me coddler or god witness or withness an unforgiveable act, an ax or an ask Rename me afraid but do not name me without Do not name me without not minnow Do not name me bait or beaten or deterred Rename me turd, but not porcelain, not flesh Rename me commotion Rename me the proximity of salt and sugar as the distance between assault and assure Rename me sugar-assured, rename me ushered, rename me hush Do not rename me hush Do not take us out of the world Rename me a series of pills but not swallow but not even a swallow’s wingspan or prey Rename me prayer or drawer into which one folds her desperation but do not name me opened and do not open me Rename me father, further, pelt, trade, treason, logic, and lube Rename me bunny-tail of moon on the wide ass of night Rename me after accumulation, after the fact Rename me after after Rename me then Rename me any, rename me anon, avast, a Kevlar vest never needed Rename me sinew Rename me insinuation Rename me remain but not remains Do not rename me tooth-sized or canine blasted or blessed Rename me have, rename me as having Rename me sleep, but not sleeper, sleep
From the writer
:: Account ::
In the spread of a week, I was in the ER because of acute pain caused by a herniated disc, and my husband was in the ER after being beaten and robbed while biking home from work. My mind was on the tenuous, my mind was on the body—that spectrum of fragility and resilience. I’m sure most of us have experienced frustration at our inability to help someone in the way we’d like—the texture of my mornings changed; my day began with a call to the detective because a call made me feel like I was doing something. I got married somewhat spontaneously in July 2016, and, to my surprise, I liked my new name: wife. I wanted to keep it. This poem is as much about the talk I did not have with the detective as the talks I did. It’s about the collision between grief and celebration. It’s either lullaby or tornado or spell. It’s a poem on holding, a poem on hold, waiting less patiently than it might.
Kristi Maxwell is the author of five books of poetry, including Realm Sixty-four (Ahsahta Press, 2008), That Our Eyes Be Rigged (Saturnalia Books, 2014), and PLAN/K (Horse Less Press, 2015). She lives in Kentucky, where she is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville.