The language of a Midwestern heart:
the way we know the sky before a tornado
breaks, as if we could hold the power
in our hands, tense the energy inside
then out – lightning, thunder, count
the seconds between the two and pray
we won’t forget what it means to pray.
Two pennies face up on a sheet of hot
train rail and two mouths faced together
as the pennies flatten themselves whole.
Hot like the belly of a firefly encased
in the jar beside your bed, five years old,
before you have the taste of I’m sorry
in your pre-soiled mouth. And I say pre-
soiled because you haven’t found space
between the rock and the water where
fat earth worms are waiting to speak.
Back to the breaking sky, tornado turning
towards hot racing hearts, the small space
between teeth and ope, sweep praying
on the seconds between light and sound.
I said you could leave but I meant;
Forgive me, I have fallen in love with the feeling of drowning. I cannot seem to pull myself up from the cusp but I like it and it is okay, I will make it. I have become taken with Satan and my nails are turning black, can you hear them growing through each shade? Do you not believe god was a tyrant in the fall of heaven? Yeah, I think so too. Forgive me.
After you left there was a gap so large I cracked towards anything solid. I found hands to wash me in warm water until the gap was filled to the brim; forgive me for bathing in that gap. I forgive you for leaving.
I have always had a thing about well water and I can taste the rust showering my mouth. I will take some juice; can I smell the glass first? Forgive me. I have taken your time with idle images of things that mean something to me, nothing to you but I am trying to get you to understand. So, be patient, and please, forgive me.
My grandfather called me the morning he died and I did not answer because I was high and sleepy and will never know if it was him calling or my father or the diligent fingers of death. Who will I ask forgiveness from? I am still thinking about death and how you told me to just quit crying but never asked why or if you could have been the problem but you lit a cigarette and left – you don’t have to apologize, I won’t either.
I keep checking my watch yet I am not eager to leave. I feel like I am waiting for something that I cannot name. The birth is coming soon and my knees are a bit weak, yes, I’d like to sit down for a while, you must forgive me. As a woman I was born with the words I am sorry sitting on my tongue, poised and waiting to strike at any breech of weakness. I am not sorry and I will not say forgive me for that.
I said look at me, and something about getting out of my house but it was our house and all I had left to say, was forgive me.
Olivia Kingery is a writer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University. Her work is published and/or forthcoming with FIVE:2:ONE, The Coil, The Human Touch, Dunes Review, From Whispers to Roars, and others. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua and Saint Bernard.
Artwork by: Jury S. Judge