Editor’s Note: Kierstin Bridger is the 2011 winner of Telluride Arts’ Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and this year’s judge. Imbed this link in your browser for details on the contest:http://www.tellurideinside.com/2012/02/mark-fischer-poetry-prize-calls-for-entries.html. To get inspired, read the latest poem from Kierstin, this one for the Easter holiday.
Time For Divided Holidays
It started with the weather stripping
once the seal was broken
you began making snowballs in the house.
When they refused to melt we knew the eggs
were gone too.
We knew Easter would be dropped
And of course we’d take
the children to the hunt.
You said all that is left, the tinge of rot
and vinegar in your hair.
Maybe it began last fall
Our red rock arches trek,
every opening was awe by sky until broken
by the crack in your voice,
the shock of thin fissures in your flawless marriage.
My apologetic mouth jack-o-lantern and agape, but still
there was cloudless acres of blue and there was hot red rock
span after span reminding us of all the spaces
we can never fill.
Which holiday would you let go?
But the children still believe you said.
Who remembers the parade of deviled eggs,
roasted beet salads, the kids
goose-bumped from the sprinkler,
casting their charms in tiaras
red cloak rescues, deep conviction
in good guys and bad?
Cut and splice the seasons in digital slow time,
frame by snowy frame. It doesn’t matter
neighborhood pines are whispering.
What you know is that the birds
never returned from Cabo.
Their nests turned grey and crumbled.
The ground refuses to thaw. The plow
has shunned the snow.
Heavy wet white shut us in, shut us out.
After the second blizzard in May
I called you to walk, trudge with me,
you said your boys are home from school
rolling out a nuclear family in the back
they raid closets for hats, scarves, buttons, glue.
Jack Daniels has moved into your split-level.
He has choked the room
of every conversation
that needed to air, he has stayed up
nights crimson–eyed and reeking. The fume of
white silence is every color spinning fast on the wheel..
You make a hope chest bon fire, but I see your
shadow frozen with fear holding a rod to the blaze
hoping it burns your hand, sear it enough
to let you drop it. Drop it all, and walk away,
but for all the flame and singe, you barely smolder.
On Memorial Day the sweltering sedan swallows you
your cavernous eyes stare through the chip-seal road,
past black grass and scorched ditches that line the cemetery
it is the same ground that cradles your father-in-law and the
great uncles of your children, it is the last anniversary
of the last war you want to remember before summer.
Will you remove the red stripes, the blue field and surrender.