You’re not steppin’ off
of the edge of this world
Ever. So don’t even think
about it. You’ve been hired
to take. In the mercy
of those daffodils
on the wooden table there,
To put your face down,
and vanish into a yellow split second
before you have to change
their water or they’ll die.
You are also an employee
Of the sky—go to the window—
it wants your ache,
It wants you to punch in early
It needs you to see its’
Blue back-bend is part of your own
Heart, and there’s no way around it.
Thank you for dark red buds on the maples,
And mothers singing hush in lamp-lit rooms,
And broken sidewalks drinking in this wet spring moon
And a friend across this town who understands humiliation,
And my father’s pervasive ghost, riding a bicycle,
And the sky’s black face and the river’s black smile,
And the hill’s torn shoulder, and this little slice of time.
But I’m dying.
I have a brother
I can’t forgive.
Jane McCafferty lives in Pittsburgh, PA, teaches at Carnegie Mellon, and is co-founder of the Pittsburgh Memoir project. She is co-author of a book of poems, From Milltown to Malltown, by Maris Press, and the author of four books of fiction, by HarperCollins and U. of Pittsburgh press. Her poems, stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals, including Witness, and The Kenyon Review. Her work has received an NEA, two Pushcarts, and The Drue Heinz award for literature, and other awards.