Monday Jun 24

Small McKinneyAmy Amy Small-McKinney won The Kithara Book Prize 2016 (Glass Lyre Press) for her second full-length collection of poems , Walking Toward Cranes. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Construction, LIPS, Tiferet Journal, and elsewhere. Small-McKinney’s poems also appear in Veils, Halos, and Shackles: International Poetry on the Abuse and Oppression of Women, and BARED: Contemporary Poetry and Art on Bras and Breasts. Recently, her work was translated into Korean in Bridging The Waters II (Cross-Cultural Communications.)

What I Dream About When You Are in The Hospital
the fabric made of eggshells at a bridal shop

then it’s not.
I’m already married to you.
Then my father beside me, & though his body’s
missing he moves over a flame
like a bridge,
alive at our wedding,
& banquet tables wait like surgeons,
& lights dim & brighten like missiles.

I try to understand how to live without you.
As I try to understand, even in the dream,
how in the Turkish city of Gaziantep
a bomb explodes in the middle of a wedding.
The video shows the bride dancing,
& then screaming, & then she’s not.

Two Sisters Henrietta and Reba Refused to Talk After Coming to America
For example, a window watches a vermillion roof,
its glass mouth opens to say, light,

a turned-down lamp waits for the sun
to squeak past its history of haze.

At the center of this apartment-sized room,
Aunt Henrietta’s four-post bed remains,

remembers my daughter who snuggled inside
like a baby croc carried across water in its mother’s mouth.

The bed still refuses to reveal a thing—time or date,
even after it’s dismantled, wrapped
inside blankets and dragged into the van.
What remains     unsaid?
Almost no one left.
You know what rhymes with light:
night, fright, and fly from war
I will lock our ancestral door, legacy
of sisters turning away from each other,
open another for my own sister,
then the bed will tell its story.

The Girls
In a basement, in the rough side of town,
I hung out with tattooed boys and shared cigarettes with thin girls.
Where I lived, no long stretch of road led to a horizon.
No lights at Christmas, no wreath with ribbon on a door.
From our front window, I saw copies of our own,
each with eight candles, a ninth lifting the others.
When my mother waited on a chair by the kitchen door, her head
bobbed to one side. Not sleeping. Half of her with us,
the other half drowning in Valium.
I had run away for three days.

Chas’s basement divided by sofas and a sliding vinyl door with accordion pleats.
We dropped our books like garbage.
On the other side of the room, Ricky waited on a couch to kiss me
and Chas joked, You’re not really a Jew.
I didn’t blame him.
What did he know of me?  
Our lives split in two, a scar across a neighborhood chart.
My bleached yellow hair, the nose job I declined,
did not protect me.
Still, I like to imagine I spoke up,
want to remember words so badly that I’m willing to invent them.
In the high school hallway, I stared into a girl who wore a camel hair coat.
Her blond hair bobbing in harmony with the world.
If I stared long enough, I might become her.
My mother bought me the same coat in red.
I never wore it.
Red, not a color of belonging.

At the hospital, my mother’s stomach pumped again.
She returned home to us, despairing, floating along
her forced current. Today, what would I tell her?                                        
What can I tell any girl who wants to be someone else?
Or what could I tell the girls huddled this week in bottoms of boats,
at the border between hope and slaughter?
Here is a blanket? I love you?