May (vs. Might)

The calendar page, unturned,
Reads April.
How long would it take the others to notice?
Am I the only one here who marks time?
But the quarantine has lasted six weeks now
And May snuck up on me, as well.
Last week’s tasks undone
No passage of time or movement registered
By this or that area of the brain
Like flying from New York to LA
Once you hit skies over Kansas:

“A lack of memorable events
Causes us to lose sense of time,”
Says a news article.

This can’t be true, for
Yesterday was the first warm day.
I saw water bugs
Skimming the creek
Their ease above,
And below—
Young salmon fighting upstream
Against the odds.

Drive-Thru Only

We drive through Wisconsin
In the year of the plague
The farmhouses, old even in my youth,
Are sad and collapsing now
Can’t go in, can’t go in
Drive-thru only
No one to love them
Cherry trees stretch skyward
A hint of dark pink on branches
No one around, no one around.

Anodynes and Oxidations

The mind rationalizes
But far more difficult for the body to forget
The body stores a living memory more accurate than the mind
The body is unreasonable in its insistence
Because it knows the truth
It reminds the mind
Of the sheens and patinas
The anodynes and oxidations
Tinting and obscuring our memories and impressions of events

Stepping into Sciortino’s Bakery
Evokes my great-grandmother’s apartment
With that unmistakable scent
Powdered sugar, amaretto extract, pistachio, and orange peel
Far more than those scattered memories
Of the last years of her life
My early childhood comes back to me
Not nostalgic but visceral
Not as though looking through a window as one does with photographs and family albums
But transported to an alternate reality
So that there is nothing to do but stop and feel and remember

For years after the NICU, the PICU, the cardiac ICU,
The cardiac “step down” unit, and the emergency room
I tried to forget but the sound of security alarms at Target
Put me back there,
A child’s lips, stained blue from a lollipop
Made me, for a split second, want to perform CPR
Gripping the counter at work
Her mother might have noticed
A split second where I was out of body—
But I doubt it. Who around us might be
Experiencing other worlds at any time
Unbeknownst to us, passing by,
A double take,
Their mind a migrating sandhill crane far overhead
Traveling at the speed of winged memory
To running streams, forgotten marshes?

Hearing, at random, a Steve Earle song
Bisected my day like lightning
If I had been warned, I would have armored myself
But there I was, a twelve-years-ago version of me
And as I drove with swirling tunnels to the past all around me
I wondered, what makes your body remember me like this?
I know you try not to think of me
Just as I don’t want to think of you
But what intrudes unannounced
When you’re unaware
And when you’re shocked into the past
Does all your hatred and anger disappear
And leave a pure affection for your younger self?

Although we can share
An approximation of the past through words, photos, family trees,
No matter how well we know or love someone
We’ll never feel
What another person’s body remembers.


Photo by ShuttrKing|KT

Margaret King

Margaret King is a Wisconsin author who enjoys penning poetry and flash fiction. She is the author of the poetry collection Isthmus and Fire Under Water, a midwestern gothic horror novella. King is now a proud dual citizen of the US and Luxembourg.

Twitter: @Indreni