Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two Poems by Ally Malinenko

Two Hundred Years to Die
~For Rob

You guys need to go, huh? he asks,
and I look from my husband to my empty tea cup
and back to him. I nod.
We haven’t seen each other in years,
enough time for me to unpack a life,
a whole marriage.

But now that I’m back in town
we made time to meet in this new coffee shop
to be the loudest people here,
down the block from the old coffee shop that closed up
after I graduated college and now sells cell phones
to boys and girls who seem far too young to be all alone.

I watch time bend and weave down Forbes Avenue,
a parade of different lives.
It arches around the globe, away from me.

We get up.
I’m sad now that this is really the end, he says
almost to himself, but I feel it down to my core.

When we hug goodbye, I feel suddenly lost.
The grass is spreading out below my feet too quickly.
Packs of students walk around us. We are just ghosts.
I look up at the Cathedral, and back down at my hands.

We agree to write.
We agree to get together again
when I’m back in this city that now seems so far from Brooklyn
that I might need a spaceship just to return.

I want to tell him that I’m sorry Colorado didn’t work out.
I’m sorry his friend died.
I want to tell him sometimes the dead come to visit.
Do not be afraid,
but I don’t.
Instead I look forward and from the corner of my eye
I can see every choice I’ve ever made blow away from me like dead leaves.

Somewhere a whole universe has begun.

We hug and he leaves and I don’t look back.
My husband slips his hand into mine,
together we glance at the bus stop by the library
where we used to talk when we were young and scared
and slowly falling in love.

Somewhere a whole universe is ending.

Certain trees live for six hundred years.
Two hundred to be born,
two hundred to exist
and another two hundred to die.

Somewhere else this has all just taken root.
There, it is only the beginning and not the end.
Photograph, Age Eleven
In the photograph
the girl
wears a hard look
wound tight
standing by her bike
gripping the handlebars,
nearly eleven
about to peel her childhood off
like a wet bathing suit.
Her face says what she does not.
She is cautious
when the neighborhood boys call to her
to show her the fish they caught
in the lake. It circles and circles in the bucket.
When he places it on the board
and swings the hammer down
she jumps and learns how easy killing is.
The air is thick with chlorine and wet leaves
and she stares at the grass
stuck to his leg,
the hair on it turning dark, darker toward the thigh.
She tries not to look at the space between his legs.
It scares her as much as the now dead fish.
To think this creature just alive
now dead
its mouth still open
almost calling to her.
Inside, her heart beats
she can feel it with every inch of her
but inside the fish, it is dreadfully still
and that difference is all she can think about
while she stands there, transfixed
doing nothing but trembling in her years.
Ally Malinenko has been writing stories and poems and novels for awhile now. Possibly too long. Occasionally she gets them published. Her second book of poems entitled Crashing to Earth is forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press and her first novel for children, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, was recently published by Antenna Books. She can be found blathering here:

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