These lost people we’re supposed to love. I’ll search a million years. When I can’t
find them around the kitchen counter. When I go looking for my father in a red
velvet casino somewhere down a red velvet street. When I wait on the bench near
the poker pit or in some other ashtray choking. When I call through the smoke
Daddy, is that you, when I run out of ways to run down the freeway screaming,
when aortas hook up with slot machines, when red velvet skies pump down
downtown when cashiers behind ropes clink clink. When a hooker drools down
her lipstick. When I yell across IS THAT YOU does he hear me? These lost things
do they see me? When my mother can’t see the moon or sea. The empty bottle
when I find the phone when they save her life when she’s nearly done when I
punch 9-1-1 when I am 9, or 11 . When she stows her sunglasses in the freezer
last week. When she looks for my face in the sink yesterday. When today she
turns 85. When she can’t remember a thing. When tomorrow I drop my heart
down the soapy dark dishwater to see if it still floats.
Tell me the story of the day I was born, I ask a fine pine outside the kitchen door.
Tell me again why I was named Bonnie, I ask a tire swing swinging
Bonnie Jill Emanuel
Bonnie Jill Emanuel holds an MFA from The City College of New York, where she received the 2020 Jerome Lowell DeJur Award in Creative Writing and the 2017 Stark Poetry Prize in Memory of Raymond Patterson. Her poems appear in SWWIM, American Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Midwest Review, Love’s Executive Order, Chiron Review, and other fine journals. Born in Detroit, she now lives and writes in New York. She is at work on her first full-length collection of poems.