new work from the Winter 2013 issue: a poem from Leslie Anne McIlroy

17 Jan


I want to write to everyone I know and ask

about the man — about the man, the swing,

an empty house and a smokestack, the smell

of mildew, oil, wood, sweat. You see,

he left me nothing. I remember nothing,

as if there’s nothing to remember. Except

in my dreams there is a man and a swing,

an empty house and a smokestack. You see?

There is his back and once, in a dream,

he turned and my daughter was behind him.

I woke shaking. Me, but not my daughter.

You understand, not my daughter. You see

I will kill him if he touches her. It is

the only thing I know for sure. It is

the smoke, the swing, the house. It is

oil/wood/mildew. It is the stench. You see?

It is the mother who should have been there,

the father who shouldn’t have left. The lover

holding my shaking hands. It is the man’s back,

his face I can’t see. It is the window. It is the door.

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