by T. J. Jarrett
They are allowed to forget. Maybe you will discover this
when her sister dies. As the orderly wheels the body away,
she will collapse in your arms, weeping for the first time
without taking you into consideration. Or maybe as you stand
in the wide, sterile ICU hallway, watching him emerge from his
anesthetized body with terror in his eyes while
the monitors beep and flash unintelligibly back at him.
They all forget, eventually, that they are your parents.
She will not make her way to the nearest sink, turn the faucet
and stare into a middle distance away from you. He will
not spare you. He will say: At last, my body has betrayed me.
At first, they will catch themselves. Your mother will
reach for your shoulder and ask about your grief. Your father
will make an awkward joke about hospital gowns or the food
or the nurses and pat your back reassuringly. But soon, they will
grow comfortably into a space without you. No accounting
of parental failures nor any list of wrongs can prepare you for this.
Who can take any of it back? You all made it up as you went along.
You are allowed to grieve. You are allowed to have been
wrong about everything. You are allowed to lift them in your arms.
How small they’ve become. How happy, how light.
by T. J. Jarrett
we chase it. The ghosts follow, followed then
by the dark. It has come to my attention that it is possible,
due to recent technological advances, to live only
in sun. You could fuel mid-air if you like; you could simply
quit the earth. Someone could do that. That someone
could be you. You could read this and nod, yes, yes. Take me to a
place without darkness. It would be unwriterly for me to do so.
Worse— Irresponsible. Uncharitable. Let me tell you how
to withstand the dark: The dark will go on only as long
as you let it. You must forgive the dark. It never takes you
into account. Forgive the earth that bears the dark
on its back. Forgive then, the ghosts you carry. Touch them
on the cheek tenderly, each one, and send them on ahead
of you. Forgive the stars their disinterested twinkling. Forgive the
air and trees. You will experience weightlessness. Forgive
the gravity that holds you. Behold the spinning earth. Choose.
T. J. Jarrett is a software developer in Nashville, Tennessee. Her
recent work has been published or is forthcoming in Linebreak,
DIAGRAM, and Pluck!
On “Childhood” and “When the Sun Nears the Earth in the West”:
In the moment these poems were written, my lover’s father was
suddenly admitted into the hospital for heart trouble. My lover
and I were falling apart (having some heart trouble of our own),
and he despaired over his father’s illness. I urgently wanted to
tell him the things contained in these poems, but at the time all I
could do was listen and offer silence. But in moments we were
apart, I found words for what I believed he needed to hear. The
fact that I had an audience of one made it easier to create the
intimacy of the language and reminded me that I am not writing
poems for myself, but to a reader. The crisis returned me to that
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 5, Number 1
Copyright © 2010
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
When the Sun Nears the Earth
in the West