Along Third Street
South Gilbert is mostly empty
and ignorant of my resolutions.
This is my first time back since you died
and everyone has been prattling on about
what would have happened had you
not gone down the stairs to the cellar.
This is as productive as me wondering
about what would have happened had
I known how to save myself with a condom.
I mean, it’s not like this is as useless
as me parked just down from your
house and apologizing to you for
missing your funeral. Once things are gone
they’re gone and some things
just cannot be told.
You either live them
or you don’t but
you can’t tell about them. Especially
after you’re gone, the sun has long
since set, and the street lights have come
on along Third Street.
For Grief and for Ironing
Mary Elizabeth Snook ironed on the day Grandpa
Cecil Hayes died at 3:15 am and then she made
cake, macaroni salad, scalloped corn, and goulash
to bring to my Nana’s house. She ironed
the day her ear hurt so badly that she
vomited and then rallied to go to the A & P to
get groceries and later babysat by mom and
my aunt. She ironed the day
she and my great grandpa arrived back
from a vacay to Mammoth Cave and found out Mrs.
Dickie’s mother died. Then she made pies for the
funeral. When her ulcers were paining her
and my great grandpa crossed the G.E.
picket line to get his pay check, she ironed.
All of those days and nights Earl stayed gone
and even when he hopped a bus to Indy to
join the Air Force, she ironed. When Larry
sold his ’37 Chevy for $18 she ironed. The day
my great grandpa fixed the coal room to
be cemented she canned 3 pints of peppers, 9
pints of beets, and 5 quarts of gooseberries and then she ironed.
She ironed on the days I visited when I
stood apart not knowing what to say to
her age and her gray and her creaky voice. I was too
young to listen to her hands speak and to hear
her eyes reveal how some human unions
end in doom and others create exquisite detail and
renditions not previously recorded. Yesterday, I stopped
for grief and for ironing
and I felt as old as I was born
with nothing to be told that would
fill 10 five-year diaries worth of life. If I were
with her today I would walk with her
in her garden and tell her all about how some days
I barely know how to iron at all.
With Authority and One Purpose
the most silent thing in the room was me
lying arms spread
amid summoning circuitry
and questioning beeps
and the Blacksmith Surgical Caesarean Section Set
88 gleaming instruments of disregard
lined up neatly
and one purpose
I spoke politely
then with growing urgency
then with repetitious bluntness
“I am NOT numb on my right side”
he was full up on Disbelief
founded entirely upon the
blind knowing of his things
that the logic and boundaries of his world
would not allow for me
the staccato of his ‘S’s’
hissed so close to my ear
I could feel the moisture
in his breath
“The worst is over”
my heart pounded His Machines
until my veins burned with the poison of silence
until my vision spilled in lazy circles
until reason was blunted nearly gagging me
“You drugged me,” I wailed
shocked by my disacknowledgement
and numb only with the realization
that no outward force would compel
this man to hear me
when the scalpel sliced
against the layers of my abdomen
its awful beauty too much
for my nervous system to process
I was the loudest thing in the room
even next to the swearing of my OB
the horrific clamor of 87 instruments hitting the floor
the footsteps of so many people scrambling
and the Apostle of Disbelief
defending his crime of Unwillingness
louder than them all
as the Man and His Machines
Out by the Shed
Out by the shed I burn
a year and half of mandatory
chemically induced menopause.
I’m a bonfire of release
crackling with a decade of
abundant off label overprescribing of
fentanyl patches, gabapentin, and each new pain pill on the
market. My hair is covered in charred pieces of
my Defiance and Non-Compliance
when I had the nerve to tell you
that getting pregnant again was no cure
for Endometriosis, for someone heavily
medicated and in pain and with two special needs kids.
The ashes of your fire of authority
are sucked straight up into the moon
a swirling snowstorm of
You used to line up the objects
on your desk over and over
thinking you were the source of light
and heat and order but now I don’t need to stand
by the flames of your misguided treatments
and your habits of disbelief.
I stomp on the parts of you still moving
then I cremate you
and you drift over West Woods
your ashes silhouetted against
Sirius and the rings of Saturn singing.
I hid things in the dark
and yielded to excruciating pain out of deep love
and self-imposed expectations that because
I could tolerate anything I should.
The blaze of you coats my mouth.
You diagnosed me into pieces
that took forever to collect. Now
I’m a Firestarter.
Me Going Gone
the doctor scribbles, dictates terms, goes in and out of doors
the man doubts
he checks boxes
he confuses injury for illness and can’t help connecting disconnected things that shouldn’t be connected
everything but this man is made of me
none of the medications he prescribes are for him at all and his legs are never hoisted into stirrups that screech and scream like our neighbor’s cat, Zoe, who murdered a baby raccoon on our garbage can one sticky summer night
this is the sound of me going gone
Melissa Mulvihill writes from northeast Ohio where she lives with her husband and sons, 18 and 23. She has been published in multiple issues of The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, Intermission E-Zine, The Write Launch Literary Magazine, Poet’s Haven Digest, Strange Land Anthology, The Distance Between Insanity and Genius Anthology, and It Was a Dark and Stormy Night Anthology. Her poem, Your Phone Call, appeared in The Blue Nib 2017 Anthology. She writes about homeschooling and growing kids during a decade long battle with stage 4 Endometriosis and she shares stories that demand to be told from her childhood in Danville, Illinois. She has poems forthcoming at the Feminine Collective.