Meghan Palko is a graduate of UNC-Wilmington and a soon-to-be graduate of East Carolina University
with a Master's in English. She won the 2010 Anthony Abbott Undergraduate Poetry Competition, which included publication in the Charlotte Writers' Anthology, and has also been published in What the Fiction and Southern Women's Review.
The Illegitimate Conception of a Poem
You worry about your poem’s future:
You’re not married to the idea
(some would call this illegitimacy)
since it wasn’t yours in the first place.
Your husband sleeps in another room
now; he isn’t willing to make last minute runs
for rich, salty, over-processed images
that aren’t too sentimental but just
poignant enough. He’s finished
carrying your burdens for you. The life
growing in your gut doesn’t belong to him.
Now late August is a scorched tongue. You flip
thin disks of zucchini in a skillet
that rebels and sizzles with wafts
of frantic steam—cooking for three.
The dog laps sloppily from a bowl, not knowing
what it means to wake up one year
more tired than last. Will you feel
contractions soon? You wait for the sharp
tightening of thought, the natural birth,
what grows from lust, from
the easy intercourse of grief and joy.
Boy in the Water
Afternoon and I am passing
by familiar trees on my way home.
A cold wind at my ears whips painfully
like a mother’s protest.
Late-day light hovers. A crow releases
a single stinging caw from a bush.
Dry leaves applaud in ruffled air.
You don’t see me—Silence, then
an echo pressed into a single note of sound.
I know I’ve found you when I spot
a face that could pacify the wind.
I, like the trees,
would bend at the knees just to see you.
Viajou Na Maionese
to live in a dream world
My mother says hair grows with the moon: in cycles,
ordered frenzies pulled steadily like sea tides.
My father says it doesn’t matter whether the moon
is full and bright: the sea, he says, will wave its own way.
What about the oceans in our heads?—
Cool, crystalline seas so blue
you’d have to cup the water in your hands
to realize it’s just a mirror of the sky?
Some people think God is sin dolor: the painless one.
Some people think he is a supernova two millennia old,
a cannibalizing nebula: the great holiday ornament in the sky.
Some believe he is within time and some believe he is without.
John Lennon only believes in himself.
Yesterday Jesus showed up in a woman’s x-ray
and her x-ray showed up on national news.
This blew her faith out of the water.
It would be like Jesus, wouldn’t it, to show up on an x-ray
or a cornflake or coppery water stains on the bathroom wall.
My mother’s greatest fear is loneliness.
My father didn’t believe in loneliness.
My greatest fear is falling, but
mermaids don’t fall: they just sink back into the sea.
Religion is a business that depends on the failure of science.
I don’t want to prove anything or be proven.
I don’t want to sleep. I want to keep swimming,
to keep thinking about the countless ways to say
mountain, woman, broken, love.