Poetry

October 9, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Ian Keefe photo

 

By

Anika Jensen

 

 

 

Things I Believe

 

 

God, somehow.

Whatever, whoever, to whomever God is,

he/she/they/it made his/her/them/itself known to me on the back porch in winter

when I feared beyond the air was nothing.

Past a sleeping family, through the sliding glass door God pulled

me in my pajamas, bare feet blue in the snow,

to hear the breath of what had lived long before I woke.

The trees did not burst ablaze; the sky stayed put.

God spoke instead in whispers and delivered me a robin,

a small thing,

that hopped up the wooden stairs and chirped a prayer of spring that had long since

abandoned my ears, even when the latest years grew warmer.

 

God sent reminders.

Above the mountains in West Virginia, light spilled through low clouds to spell out my name.

My grandmother in a butterfly.

A heart on a frosted window and a phone call across time zones saying

leave him, he can’t hurt you here.

A hotel room, my eden when homes became hell.

 

God sent a woman in a blue suit whose right hand raised my voice and made me sing

ancient, mournful dirges

melodies of deliverance, yes sister I see you

I know what it feels like not to breathe

I know what it feels like to remember

and with her I relived the nights I was shaken,

slapped, raped, scarred, poisoned and the mornings I believed

I would step outside and see his body on the concrete,

his blood draining down to me because I did not love him hard enough

fast enough

painfully enough to deserve the God I thought I knew.

 

The woman in the blue suit spoke softly.

She held my hand, and my mother’s hand. She told me God was real.

 

And I believe her.

 

 

 

 

 

No More Locked Cars

 

 

Give me a river bank instead,

rising because it stormed every day in July

so when the water reaches his ankles he will start to worry,

and at his knees he might want to stop pushing.

 

One of two things at his hips:

he runs and is almost forgotten except in other blue eyes,

or he plants his feet in the mud and takes my wrists and says

(to love me is to drown here,

today)

because little boys don’t know it doesn’t have to hurt.

 

The river rises.

 

I did not have to be swept away to know that love is not drowning,

to know that I am not really stuck in the West Virginia clay,

but I was. Because nobody told me.

So. I plunged below, and up became down,

and I watched the women flowing with me become algae, only to move

when the current moves. Only to speak to say yes, okay, take what you want but please stop asking

(finally).

When I reached the shore alive,

I asked why they could not come, too.

 

The river rises. The water can take him.

I will stand, unbaptized, on the heights. Dry.

Give me a riverbank, rising because it was always a scary time for me,

my mother, the blue goddess,

and a locked car was never a good place to say no.

 

 

 

 

 

Anika Jensen

Anika Jensen earned a BA in English with a writing concentration from Gettysburg College.

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. Jakobsen October 09, at 20:44

    Very good, I think I know what you mean,

    Reply

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