2/25/2020

Lynne Knight

The Rising

 

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.

 

 

Quick, Quick

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.