THE HISTORY OF SWEARING
The first time I hear you swear it is a young
summer. You pull me out
of the path of a car. I am on a new bike, now
crushed under the front end of a Honda.
It is not real to me the way you dart out, tear
my shirt for how hard you fling me back
onto the ground and yell to get in the damn house.
I will not think of this day until many years later
on your birthday when incidentally I purchase my first
adult bicycle. How I thought your anger was
at what was lost. How I did not know you loved
what you saved, and will not know it
until years after you are gone.
The whir of the night fan, blowing blonde hair
over dream eyes. Running sticky-footed, wet-eyelashed
across the kitchen floor after a nightmare, calling for mom.
The nuclear power plant controlling the weather, puffing
out white cloud after white cloud.
The Princess Jasmine pillowcase and the beanbag chairs.
Sneaking out when everyone is finally sleeping
to swing alone at the park, looking up and seeing, finally,
the stars for what they were:
a reminder of how long it takes to get anywhere,
and the fact that even after you leave there's still a part of you there,
streaming old light into empty Ohio cornfields.
Brett Elizabeth Jenkins currently lives and writes in Albert Lea, MN with her husband and no children. Look for her poems in Beloit Poetry Journal, Potomac Review, PANK, Neon, and elsewhere.
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