The turkey was sacrificial. We dug
our fingers through dark meat
to retrieve the stuffing but avoided
the controversial topics, the fat on our bones.
What bubbled was the broth, salt
on stone, and Mom drank sparkling
juice cocktails, pretended it was wine–
laughter compressed from the mash
in our mouths, the soft chew and gravy.
How simple it would be to spill grease
from the pan over the tablecloth, so temporary–
ten years ago was the last we all celebrated,
the last our talking bounced from mouths,
caught softly in our ears. After the funeral
we peeled grapefruit. Its rotting meat
blessed a white plate for days after the feast,
when we gorged enough of ourselves
to ask what it is about the lumps in apple pie
we savor, when the tartness
burrows new holes in our teeth–
maybe it’s the cutting, dulled knife on pie,
and the serving– one piece on porcelain,
a fragment, a memory
of what it means to be whole.
As I move further from you, whiskey in hand,
the thirst seems to pile like distance in the miles–
my shape roasted under Pacific sun.
Our sunglasses clinked with wine glasses.
The dry sponge. Run me under the sink.
Or run with me. You could be a ghost, too,
a phantom unfurling before me, haunting
each town I pass. Every morning, I am gone.
For a while, your blanket was warm. But chill the air
long enough and someone will notice. No one
likes the cold. Everyone prefers the summer river,
her water’s blue in the ice of winter, the clear
of July. I dig for you in the dirt. Then myself.
My shapelessness. My tendency to drift
so far away that I never fully return.
James Croal Jackson‘s poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Lines+Stars, Whale Road Review, and other publications. He is the winner of the 2016 William Redding Memorial Poetry Prize sponsored by The Poetry Forum. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio. Web