"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Turning Another Year Old

Turning Another Year Old

This year will be better. We will study the wood frog that comes back to life
after a long freeze, as curiosity not metaphor. 

I will sage the corners of my mouth and learn to tolerate the texture of popsicle sticks.

I will depress my breath long enough to wave at the other mothers in the drop-off
line—without cursing, without crossing myself as elegy.  

This year will be filled with forgetting, which feels antithetical—her struggle
to summon my name when I unknot her hair, stitch her coffee with cream.
What existed in her blood months before I was born.  

I will practice motherlessness. Which cannot be perfected because of memory—mine. 

I will practice making my children shatterproof. The young white men in this country
have given me no other choice. 

I will teach my son how to read cursive as our breath in the still-cold morning. 

I will go hunting with a fist of feathers and show my unchecked skin to the teeth
of something feral, 

a black bear or mountain lion, my softest parts reddened by sun, marked as mistake,
or deliciously rare.

Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera. She is an Editor at The Comstock Review. Website: meganmerchant.wix.com/poet, Twitter: @meganamerchant

Cover photo by Audrey Fretz on Unsplash