The Maynard
Spring 2016

Chelene Knight

Dear Miss Parker

Bring me back home she says lifting silver
tea cups, saucers—the pot bone dry. Fingers
rubbing chicken skin injecting pickle juice.
She smiles thinkin’ this is how we do it
down here. No walls, no roof, it’s no wonder
her knees worn down to their fossil resin
still the porch won’t give in under the weight
of her heavy steps. She paces—floor boards
shifting but holding and begging for her.
This is home. Before, dresses made from news
paper patterns crafted by hand. Mama
promised to never tear down any part
left standing, the wind picks and choses who
stays planted. No cotton here in this field.

Stays planted. No cotton here in this field.
refusing to lay her head down. She waits
for butterfly windows that kiss when closed
Can’t hang them any kind of way, you hear?
Dig where roots lay, sleep deep in the narrow
the napes of necks and small white hairs fall back
and stand up—this is close quarter breathing.
The rise and fall, a daily dish, don’t give
the recipe away. A fight worth more—
a needing. Eating on plates, with brothers.
A daughter’s come back to fill rooms heavy
with voices, big city breathing, under
the wood floors, there’s still water trickling
into the cold of night air, it rises.

Into the cold of night air it rises
like full white bellies and greased up fingers.
Tips and tops of washed-up houses sweep by
your feet. Her feet. His feet. Our feet can’t walk
on no more nails. Keep dreaming of hay stacks
on the backs of trucks, tires stuck in mud, stop
the heat from leaking—it gets cold in there
most nights. When it’s painted, she’ll send pictures
of rooms, colour schemes and holy water.
Anything of value, gone. It’s about
a place to stay. Sweet potato pumpkin
pie, still used for something else. Actions speak
like long, curly black hair dragged down the steps.
She took a trip backwards, calling her name.

She took a trip backwards, calling her name.
Six months later embedded in marble
not less than a mile long—a sprawling swamp.
Trying to find the spot washed away, her
name was removed and replaced with pink stacks.
Assembled. The house comes back in numbers
falling apart all over. Stretched mouths bite
outside and inside, come up slow. The sun,
like frying turkey it sizzles then burns—
Get back. Eyes, ears, leather-wrapped hands are mine.
You get the roots and the family back.
You paint it if you want to make it new.
Play the music, beside the fence. Press pause.
Lord, blessed with abundance, flat-lined and back.

Lord, blessed with abundance, flat-lined and back,
my bed is waiting. Are you gonna stay?
A visit in November comes early.
Homesick and hungry stuck in the flux she
trembles. What do you want? Never happened
this thing, he held her arms behind her head.
This is the last day for waiting to raise
the covers a top her face. Still breathing.
Lost in the black heap he speaks to the rest,
crowded in the confines of the trailer
she puts her shoes on, slips them off without
untying a single shoe lace, she knows,
somebody heard her, part of them is gone.
At dawn, another house rolls down the street.

At dawn, another house rolls down the street
of ashes, of summer, bolts of spring leaves
all seasons meeting for tea, it’s pleasant
to have her here in a world tucked under,
flipped over—a spot to rest her knees now.
Yellow trims and frames the corners of eyes
closed shut and whispered. Hush of the hinges
folding for the last time, hollow echoes
whip the air. Fair skin mistakes float past, knowing
the water in the well’s run dry. Tonight,
we’ll call for the masses to fill the streets
lined deep with bodies, bordered with lilies
left untouched for anyone left looking.
Tonight, she’ll speak in two-tone. Silver           gold.

Tonight, she’ll speak in two-tone. Silver, gold.
Laying claim to nothing but the structure
of bone. Sons and Daughters talkin’ old times
in the kitchen, nothing giving below
their feet—firm on the ground, no water came
that night, nothing ripped from walls left floating
around her—knees not left bending from ache,
no jewels thieved far from under, no coins
clenched in the fists of uniformed men, no
pleading on roof tops for rescue for days.
Days left counting bodies of family
lost, and limbs hover from high white ceilings.
Miss Parker. Miss Parker? Miss, are you there?
Bring me back home she says. Lifting. Silver.