Two Poems

Poetry / Autumn McClintock

:: Abiding Characteristics ::

	erased from Valerie’s journal: April 21, 1982

With each season

you	           stand the elusive 
reason	for why people “pass on.”
        you learn	to pick tulips

long-stemmed instead of right
from the blossom. Listening
        a glimpse
        you handle relationships

Know	how special you are. You’re just not
                   you’re not	    you’re
not	        you’re not


        so beautiful

                              the seasons
You	             unlearn

 
and	 accept
 

                        understand 
                          something
 
spoken of and		obvious 
you	          say, “get it, mom?”
                                        if you could
get around to the other side it would be 
easier

                         you love to run.


 

:: Isaiah 40: Erased from Headstone ::

          says your God

her hard service has been completed, 
she has received from the LORD’S hand

          the wilderness           the desert 

a highway           rough
and revealed.


And I said, What shall I cry? All people are      grass, 
     and all breath
blows the      grass.


     a high mountain           lift up
with a shout,
lift      up
the hollow breadth      of the heavens
Who has held the earth           in a basket?


Whom did the LORD consult 
and who was
the
     dust the
               fine dust

Do you not know?      Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you 
since the earth was
                     the earth,

 
its grass
stretches
                              like a canopy,

and reduces this world to
the ground
 
the	name
               is missing.

Why do you complain?
Why do you say

LORD my God 
LORD           God,
     no
LORD
               no
                  no.

 

 

From the writer

:: Account ::

These era­sures are, respec­tive­ly, from a jour­nal my moth­er wrote to/for me after I was born and from chap­ter 40 of Isa­iah, from the New Inter­na­tion­al Ver­sion of the Bible. This year, I am the age my moth­er was when she died: 41. This project allows our con­ver­sa­tion to go on. These works are also part of a longer man­u­script that exam­ines rela­tion­ships between/among women, ill­ness, grief, enter­ing mid­dle age, and what it means to out­live one’s par­ent in years and age. My hope is that the poems make pos­si­ble oth­er con­ver­sa­tions out in the world, between you and your dead or maybe even you and your liv­ing. Works of era­sure that have been invalu­able as I approached this project are The Ground I Stand on Is Not My Ground by Col­lier Nogues, Radi os by Ronald John­son, and Voy­ager by Srikanth Red­dy.

 

Autumn McClin­tock lives in Philadel­phia and works at the pub­lic library. Her first chap­book, After the Creek, was pub­lished in 2016. Poems of hers have recent­ly appeared or are forth­com­ing in Poet­ry Dai­ly, Green Moun­tains Review, Den­ver Quar­ter­ly, Cimar­ron Review, Drunk­en Boat, Spoon Riv­er Poet­ry Review, and oth­ers. She is a staff read­er for Ploughshares.