AFTER THE BREAK-UP
by Lynne Knight
Some days you need to leave your head
like a city you can’t stand any longer,
too much heat, too much traffic, too many people
jostling you around, so you take a shuttle
to the airport, pretending you speak none
of the languages anyone else speaks, you fly
to a country that may or may not be reachable
& the first thing you purchase on arrival
is a hat, because after all you’ve left your head
& don’t want to draw attention to its absence
since someone might notice & begin to question
your sanity, your needs, when all you want,
all you’ve ever wanted, you think, is calm,
uninterrupted calm, so you make your way
to the nearest beach, which is too stony
for bathers or sunbathers, you walk along
regarding the variety of stones, like people,
you think, only so much less problematic,
being so silent, so still, & you pick one up
& toss it far out into the water, watch the splash
disappear as if it were all that simple, here,
not here, & now something is happening
you can no longer ignore, a doorbell, phone,
you’re back where you keep going nowhere.
by Lynne Knight
They say the dead don’t speak.
Don’t believe it. Just this morning
I opened my mouth & my mother
began to talk in the most natural way
about the problems that can come
with buying peaches a little too ripe.
They bruise on the way home,
she said, so there you are, facing
another peach cobbler, & who needs
another peach cobbler. That
was my mother’s shorthand for
the deadly repetitiveness of things.
“Deadly” was a word we used freely then,
before the dead began to surround us.
Her father. Her mother. My father.
My sister & I used to pray our father
would die first because if our mother died,
we said, he’d drink himself to death.
He’d already tried, several times.
So there I was, slicing a bruised peach,
my mother nine years dead, my father
so many more that I almost never
opened my mouth & heard
his throaty laugh, his smoke-coated
words. He was more apt to emerge
through the hand. The dead can’t write,
they say, but don’t believe that, either.
My father’s there in my signature.
This happened slowly, like my face
beginning to be old. A slant,
a narrowing of the loops, a blur
from one letter to the next. Don’t get me
wrong. I’m not one of those women
locked into mourning. I was just slicing
a peach for my cereal, & there the dead
were again. The towhee on the bank
knew nothing of this as it pecked
at seed fallen from the feeder
with deadly repetitiveness, so to speak.
Lynne Knight is the author of six full-length poetry
collections, three of them prize winners. Her two most
recent collections are The Language of Forgetting,
published in 2018 by Sixteen Rivers Press, and The
Persistence of Longing, published by Terrapin Books
in 2016. The Bone Woman, Knight’s fifth chapbook,
was published by Mudlark in 2017. Three of her other
chapbooks are also prize winners. Her work has
appeared in many journals including Kenyon Review,
Poetry, and Southern Review. Her other awards and
honors include publication in Best American Poetry,
the Prix de l’Alliance Française 2006, a PSA Lucille
Medwick Memorial Award, the 2009 RATTLE Poetry
Prize, and an NEA grant. I Know (Je sais), her
translation with the author Ito Naga of his best-selling
collection Je sais, appeared in a bilingual edition from
Sixteen Rivers Press in 2013.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 13, Number 1
Copyright © 2018
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
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