Two Poems

Two wonderful new poems by Sadie McCarney in The Puritan Issue 32: Winter 2016 | Click for more information on our annual poetry contest.
Milford The grown kids war at whim again, split their Lincoln Log cordwood and scowl or putt to town on Tinker Toy exhaust. So go. Slip away in preemie light, the way chipmunks flit from house to outhouse, skittish migrants who gnaw the nut but leave its hull behind. The tractor’s unrepaired brake chain, wet moss, tires, Godzilla rhubarb the shut-down highway store won’t sell let lie each heirloom and fossil bone. Past uncles’ coldwater shacks that still lean on crossbeams, past ‘Share the Road’ and ‘No Trespassing’ for the blueberry patch pollinated by prayer, walk till copse and thicket forget and you’re too far out for bullfrogs to care. Bury your own body in dogwood and birch. But know when to turn back. The grown kids will growl you back in, as cattails crick from the weight of rain and chokeweed. As men slough the bitterness off, a dead skin.   Step— We were all there: crows, prim diaconal priest, third cousins wound tight together like cornrows. Two by two, like school- -kids, we filed past the deceased tarted up in her box, a bad kewpie doll with too much rouge. She never looked so alive in life, like she’d can-can dance if you gave her a nudge. The second wives and I hived together like bees, abuzz with idle laughs and chatter— politics, who brought which bread. We were all step-aunts or step-something-or-others, ghosts the family kept like cats to haunt and haunt the family tree. In a six-foot furrow they hoisted her down, (cold dirt dry as liturgy) in silk and blue eyeshadow (although, alive, she’d shunned running water). They recalled her hugs, a stale waft of tobacco. But we married in. We weren’t the Hummel figurines or pudgy granddaughter she loved. We ate date squares and stared at our feet. The dead, but once or twice removed.