It only looks hard. I could imagine you
not jumping; it would look even easier.
The edge of land looks off-
center, away from us. Small trees find a hand-
hold on sheer rock face and threaten
to let go, but they won’t.
Unless they’re pushed.
There’s a feeling one must get too close
to feel. Like this morning, a dove flew
in front of my car, a slip of grey-white
against fog-darkened blacktop. I knew
I couldn’t miss it, waited for the soft knock
against steel. Nothing. In the rearview,
the dove settled at the edge of the road,
its mate idling close. My hands
on the wheel suddenly hurt in release.
That kind of feeling.
At the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial,
he is in the process of leaving
the stone, but it pulls
on his back, solid wings of retreat
chiseled to him. Freedom’s still air
shines his face, his feet mired in marble.
Visitors cannot leave
without taking him with them.
He almost goes. He almost stays.
I have not wasted my life.
My life has wasted me.
Why I Don’t Keep Birds
They live a long time,
but they don’t keep well,
you know, like canned
vegetables long past
the expiration date
are edible, but
the bloody taste of metal
tangs against the tongue;
like water left in the sun
is freer, but gathers
a certain stagnation
before it grows green;
like what’s in the air
enters through the bars
but cannot escape;
even the notes are off
and fall like broken piano keys
I would’ve died for a breath
of that rain. The glass dry
against my hand
on this side; on the other,
window of the suicide ward
faced the city
like a tramp—hungry, dirty,
Pigeons nodded on the ledge.
Behind me, the ward droned on.
Wrists healed. Doors stayed locked.
A man ambushed a stone.
He said, “I’m sorry I startled you,
but you see, I can sense your weaponry,
your killing nature,
and even your courteous manner of marking
the grave of the last man you struck down.”
The stone lay silent.
“Oh, I know,” continued the man, “It’s not the gun
but the person holding the gun—usually a man
because women don’t like messy means
of doing away with things; they have to clean up
and that means they’d have to lay the gun down
and get their hands dirty. And a gun left lying
could go off, just as you could
breach the angle of repose and go
crushing moss over the hillside. I think I’ll wait
here with you; that way we both know
nothing bad will ever happen.
Not to us, anyway.”
The water came only to the boy’s knees,
yet he feared drowning.
No. Not being able to breathe.
No. Not being able to swim to air.
Once, when watching a pot boil,
I wondered if scientists,
after they learn how
molecules dance, no longer need to watch
the way I am content to sleep
through Christmas Eve,
my roof undisturbed,
windows glossed with rain.
Claustrophobia accompanies me
like a port wine stain, and I tell myself,
“Not breathing would end it.”
A cloud looks like a face,
but it cannot hold or stay.
Rain lets go of the roof.
But I cannot.
How do we tell the bird
it has plenty of air
if air is not what it wants?
Trish Lindsey Jaggers is the author of Holonym: a collection of poems (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and an award-winning Kentucky poet, educator, amateur photographer, vintage/antique collector, as well as wife, mother, and grandmother. She has published in numerous literary magazines, journals, books, zines, and anthologies. She makes her home on a small farm in Chalybeate, Kentucky, where she divides her time among the quiet spaces nature so abundantly offers, family, collecting, travel, and reading. She is an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University where she teaches English, literature, and creative writing and mentors a flock of young (and older) writers—specifically poets. As with the perfect poem, piece of prose, photograph, and antique, she finds the elusive most intriguing and worthy of the time spent in search of it. This is her first appearance in ‘Merica Magazine.