March 15, 2015 by The Citron Review
by John McCarthy
The brick settles like teeth
without braces and cottonwoods
frame the interstate with breath.
The sky changes color sharper
around here. Grey to green
like an infection overnight.
You can hear the talking float
like the clouds that descend,
puncturing themselves on bluestem.
The rain dries into wind.
Hair on end, stomachs dampen
and sink into basement pits.
You hide by staying outside;
drink a Hamms with your grandfather,
watch lightning open up the sky,
thunder and the sound of zippers.
In the seconds before a tornado
your grandfather will reveal secrets
of his life—this place, a flash,
hardly on a map, still burrowing
into the Earth. Initials carve
cotillion days into dogwoods;
roots run into fossils. He says
if you dig deep enough you will see
the beginning, before we had to love
everything that left. The mistake,
he says, is hiding from this sky
that wants to take all this land home.
John McCarthy’s work appears or is forthcoming in The Pinch, RHINO, The Minnesota Review, Oyez Review, Salamander, Jabberwock Review, Briar Cliff Review, and Midwestern Gothic. He edited the anthology [Ex]tinguished and [Ex]tinct (Twelve Winters Press, 2014). He is the assistant editor of Quiddity.
McCarthy’s poem about Kansas gave me the chills. Loved it.