Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Poem by Jacqueline Markowski

Charlie Horse
I can see you spilling, like sour milk,
into the room through the crack
beneath the door. You incubate,
blatantly ignorant to what frightens
her at night, who her best friend is, why
she likes the color green so much.
It’s easier this way, I can smell
your selfish essence through
the reasons you utter when shame presses
you to give them. She is yours, you say,
like a possession, a doll. You need her,
you admit; she needs you, a broth you pour
when it’s convenient, never supposing
a stain might set. You don’t even know
she got her first hair cut. If you could see
her, holding tight to a balloon
you gave her nine months ago,
pretending it still floats. She talks
about you… about that time
she rode a horse named Charlie
and you stood in the shade
watching, pale with paranoia, exhausted
by the energy spent not knowing.
You preach at her that you’re her father—
No one else is Daddy… you say
sternly. She thinks she’s done something
wrong; she won’t trust her instincts
next time. Daddy means something different
to her than it does to her friends. It means:
sometimes, not for long, hotel rooms, promises
spent like pennies in a fountain. She
uses plain language to describe a father
who sleeps on the floor by her bed
when she’s frightened,
who bathes her, who reads her stories every
night, even when she doesn’t ask. Simpler words,
so that she doesn’t fail you, so that maybe
you’ll come back sooner. I stand off
to the side, mute like an unwound clock.
Nothing comes naturally, no excuses,
no reasons. Only regret. I kiss her
instincts, hoping maybe in time they’ll grow
back, hoping muscles sore
from the unforgiving saddle heal
quickly. If nothing else, hoping
the burlap of her plain language
doesn’t wear through like most
things do, meaning less than her
original intent. 
Jacqueline Markowski is a writer of poetry and short stories. She lives in Charlotte, NC where she divides her time between writing and being a homeschooling mother. Her poetry has appeared in Chronogram Magazine, Cochlea/The Neovictorian and Permafrost Literary Journal. She was awarded first place in poetry during the 2006 Sandhills Writers Conference. She is currently working on a compilation of short stories but who’s she kidding- she’ll never finish. 

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