Megan Wildhood is a creative writer, scuba diver and saxophone player whose work includes a poetry chapbook Long Division (Finishing Line Press, 2017), which is about sororal estrangement; essays, fiction, poetry and nonfiction that have appeared, among other publications, in The Atlantic, The Sun, and Yes! Magazine and a novel in progress. She’s a guest writer for the blog Women in Theology.
For my week off, I’ll have surgery.
Change out old wounds into new ones.
What history’s all about. I know so much about
Poland’s war years, how my mother and her brothers
never fought with each other, what they had
to eat for every meal, even if it was burnt or
undercooked. I cannot name my daughter’s
The surgery. Where they incise both belly and back
to insert the rods to brace the spine, keep it
from slumping ever further, from crushing my lung.
(Have I not put it off long enough, like cleaning the fridge?)
There’s one sure way to kick a habit: over and over again.
But the war that was exercise and stretching didn’t slow
the droop, the narrowing of the nerve canals around my spine.
(Other words for spine: spike, needle, thorn, bristle.)
Those with the blades think love and judgment are oil on water
but, as we sit for our last dinner before the operation –
my daughter hates cabbage and steak and using a knife –
I get it. One is the face on the coin of the other.
End After End
Time is not like a book
is more like grief
because it can go backwards
is the language there aren’t words in
turns the tongue into an eraser
I read for the relief of chronology
watch the sea unfold its scrolls
on sharp rocks young and old
on recessing coastlines
who have to be in the middle of everything
gets close in on their shoulders
the close that is more than curiosity
is consumption, actually
like time like grief
not like Ping-Pong
not like pinball
because you are alone
without an oar in it
grief maybe time
they both close in on your shoulders
the close that is more
always wants more
finds a way to surf on top of all
your white-knuckle strength
your sins your books the oceans
who shrug their shoulders
unless you can break their spines
with your tiny paddle hands
How the Church Tells Time
The waitress grins with old professional
Dad, 95, manages the bones of a smile.
“Where is your sister?”
Can I say the truth? It’s the third time this meal
he’s asked where June, 52, is.
Though maybe he didn’t hear the other answers;
I turn his hearing aid to the stethoscope setting.
June hates our father so much he might as well
be God. “God,” I, 61, say.
“Doesn’t this place have excellent Easter sauce?”
That he will remember.
Mom, 1/1/19?? (she was adopted from an orphanage) –
1/1/T – 5, made Hollandaise from scratch for 65 Easters
And only Daisy’s Nook could compare. Their table flowers
last a couple hundred, are more wilted than previous springs;
they’ve stopped origami-ing their napkins into swans.
I’ve never seen a wild swan.
My sight is getting more and more bound to my eyes;
there is no transcending being human.
Food arrives. It is ordinary time. Dad bows.
His prayers are as concentrated as canned juice.
Daisy’s paper mache eggs and overstuffed bunnies
and squiggly strips of paper strewn about like grass
were before Lent around here, but Dad was never fooled.
No Easter sauce until Easter.
We are all scarcely stitched together in the heart.
“And next year, your mom will make it.”