Llewellyn McKernan has a master’s degree in creative writing from Brown University. She has been an adjunct English instructor at St. Mary’s College, University of Arkansas, and Marshall University. She has four books of poetry, including her latest, Pencil Memory, from Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has also been published in such literary journals as The Kenyon Review, The Antietam Review, Now & Then, Appalachian Journal, Appalachian Heritage, and Southern Poetry Review. She lives on a rural route in West Virginia, with a creek in front of her house and a mountain in back.
Breakfast on the Porch
The who of the owl starts
the day, though the boy never moves
from the bird in his palms
and pock-marked Mary
keeps on looking down at her eaten-
Truth is simple, once
you find it. Desire unwinds
like a clock, slows down but never
stops, coolly awake in the pallid
coma of a hot June morning.
I sit in a cobra-colored
wicker chair, staring
at the vacant thrust of the weather,
a radiant green wall of leaves threatening
to dislodge me from every season.
A pod of pastry bursts in my mouth,
my soles absorb the porch’s spineless
repose, one of the rough and ready
knotholes opens like an eye.
Berries thumb and tap on the railing,
going from pale green to rose
to the blue patina of dusk
without the help of a single syllable.
The dish the clock turns into.
The watchdog with a star on its collar, statuesque beside the table.
The punk rock of the sunset, the Gallic streams of the carpet
where my bare feet sit like dessert.
The oddly built hill of your chest, where your chin rests, as
my gaze climbs to engage your eyes, cool as key-lime pie.
Clint and Holly’s stew, Barbara’s bread, and your cheesy jokes,
the cook whistling out of range as if cooking on the range.
The small notebook of the child, opened to past life melodies,
harmonic overtones of dusk lovely as the light that
lives in all our untapped appetites.
Working in the Kitchen
The sauce hisses, its
white cat face grinning.
My shoulder blades
diddle the air, our
past flares, love threading
the red flesh of my heart
with its needle.
Flies buzzsaw, biting
the black air into pieces, licking
up its sugar, the stench
On the floor
my footprints cross and recross,
going in circles,
not vicious, but weary
from pantry to counter
to stove back to pantry: ruts
in the road of my empty,
the window, plugging
the house up, the world
shrinks to a whole-note rest
in my own silenced song.
My body, blue
at the joints from loss,
with the kind of grief no other
source of energy