“It only looks hard” – Three Poems by Trish Lindsey Jaggers

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I

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.

 

II

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.

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III

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.

 

IV

I have not wasted my life.

My life has wasted me.

 

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Why I Don’t Keep Birds

I

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

 

II

I would’ve died for a breath

of that rain. The glass dry

against my hand

on this side; on the other,

the 6th-floor

window of the suicide ward

faced the city

like a tramp—hungry, dirty,

rain-streaked, speechless.

Pigeons nodded on the ledge.

Behind me, the ward droned on.

Wrists healed. Doors stayed locked.

 

III

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.”

 

IV

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.

 

V

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.

 

VI

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.

 

VII

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.

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