Poem to Release My Inner Child
Someday you will grow up and buy two bottles of wine at every
seedy convenient store because there will always be small-minded
men trying to slap-bracelet your body. This is true. Mostly you will
grow up to learn what is not. You will love a man that someone
else hand-stitched and bit open as a game because checkers required
too much strategy. He will burn things out of luck and stick the hot
poker into your own crow-sized gashes. He will have read in a Civil
War journal that was the best way to mend bullet holes on the battlefield.
But you are home. There will be days when he decides they the same.
He will want you to dress in mirrors, and play every character in a Russian
novel, he will want you to have learned ballet in your sleep. Child, I see you
awake, poking holes in the waterbed because your mother trembled
all the time and you craved a few steady hours. If you can sit long
enough, I will teach you how to read music and love birds. They will
clump at your doorstep and break your heart, a few shudders away from
death just to hear you say, It’s okay. I’m here. You will dream of their
wings folded into snow. Your hands will never be warm enough to melt
a proper burial. So what—lick your lips red. You are a handful, yes.
But your hands will grow the size of planets. You will learn when to
pull the curtain at dinner parties, and when to stuff them inside of a turkey
to restart its honey-glazed pulse. You will have your own gravity and be
in awe of what it sucks in. You will collect puzzle pieces of when to speak
and which words require a tetanus shot. You will grow to be whiskey
and people will use you to clean their wounds. Eventually, you will learn how
to say no before the blue flame comes close enough to singe your eyebrows.
In a crowd, it will feel like you are the only one wonder-eyed and awake.
Even the trees will close their mouths and burn. It’s okay to think
the smoke-swirls are beautiful. What’s inevitable mostly is.
Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). Her latest book, Before the Fevered Snow, is coming into the world in April 2020 with Stillhouse Press. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review. You can find her work at meganmerchant.wix.com/poet.