He built a big box. Beams and supporting beams.
He made a roof. Put siding on three sides.
Meant to put a floor, a stairway, plumbing,
electricity and heat, but found himself at the end
of desire to do anything but drink.
He drank. The woman and her daughters
sat inside the box, dreaming doors,
dreaming glass for windows.
Dreaming walls. And when walls failed
to rise, dreaming they lived in medieval times
so things were quite advanced, really,
what with the siding,
the plastic in the window frames.
Winter came. Cold, oh medieval,
bring the torches, make a fire
on the makeshift hearth.
The daughters whined.
The mother said, Pretend.
Nobody knew we were in there, hidden
in the hay, the hot choking dust
colliding then subsiding in the beams
of sunlight through the barn walls,
the rough door chain-locked, the hay
broken and scattered below
the small window we’d squeezed through,
Quick, quick, in case someone saw.
We’d climb the rough ladder to the loft
to jump into the hay, again, again,
and then we’d lie hidden, whispering
what would happen to our lives, the boys
whose tongues would find us, the nights
we’d steal from sleep to come here
to meet them, sliding in through the dark
to the hay’s wide bed. Nothing
like that ever happened. But say it did.
Say the sweet nights came, we married right
out of school and stayed there all our lives.
The orchard would still have been sold,
the barn torn down, the sub-division built —
the longing still with us, all the same.
Sonnet Missing Much of Its Structure
What little was left by her bed had been stolen
by the time she died. There were clothes
in the closet, stained, faded from bleach and boiling.
My sister and I had taken the rings from her fingers
years before, so nothing had to be recovered
once death pulled its strange blue cloth through
her body, dark almost like wine in spots, bunched,
itself stained. Death had been so long coming
our weeping was restrained: half relief for the end
of her suffering. Months later, when she came
back through dreams, we woke missing her so
deeply we couldn’t get out of bed. Or so we said.
Really we lay trying to remember what it was like
to be what we had been, infant, helpless, loved.
-from The Language of Forgetting, Sixteen Rivers Press 2018, selected by PoemoftheWeek Spring Guest Editor, Luke Johnson
BIO: LYNNE KNIGHT was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. Knight graduated from the University of Michigan, where she won two Hopwood Awards, and from Syracuse University, where she was a fellow in poetry and received her MA in Creative Writing and Literature. After teaching for four decades at both the high school and college levels, Knight now works as a poet and translator. In 2018, she became a permanent resident of Canada, where she lives on Vancouver Island. Knight has published six full-length collections and six chapbooks. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, and Southern Review. Her awards and honors include publication in Best American Poetry, a Prix de l’Alliance Française, a PSA Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, a RATTLE Poetry Prize, and an NEA grant.