Sarah Mackey Kirby is a poet and writer from the United States. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Connecticut River Review, Dream Noir, Impspired, Punk Noir, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere. She is taking a hiatus from teaching history to the high school students that provide her with lots of joy and face-palms to focus on her writing. She holds an M.A. in Teaching and a B.A. in Political Science. She and her husband share their Louisville, Kentucky home with the dog and cat who allow them to live there.
The Taste of Your Music
I saw your heart beatbox to clocks. Tick Saturday night in San Francisco. You, sipping pale ale. Me, bourbon on rocks. Your yuck-face at first taste of sourdough bread. Love pouring out of pores onto table and wood floor. Uneven meter, smiling frantic-manic-sad. I smelled your style through Georgia blues and Summer’s guile. Your mellow saxophone, pecan-sugar-laugh wafting through salt air. While people stared. Dancing I-don't-care crazy. Fingers snapping pralines on the street, circling to the car. I felt your voice sing-song rhythm and reason, winding through morning Chelsea. Vibrating through pain’s treason. Timbre and texture blowing in my ear. Its varied dynamics humming New York cheesecake. Timid to crescendo of spinning year. I heard you plod on Kentucky concrete. Upbeat crepe myrtle in magnolia neighborhoods. Hiding stomps in tiptoes. Your too-alone tone. Scuffing shoes under constellations. Dropping tears with no harmony, at failure to suspend disbelief. No relief from joy’s thief. I tasted your pain in Salem, Oregon’s wind. Standing on the cusp of sane. Crevices of Corvallis stings and a myriad of things. Melody that went unchallenged. Coffee-bitter quiet before the rain set in to wash you away. Without giving me a say.
The first day you’re told you might die is a lonely day. Not in the condescending we-all-will-one-day way. Or the shake-your-head at the “I’m-gonna-pray-for-ya- ’cause-things-are-in-God’s-hands” way. But in the tangible, hug-those-you-love and throw-out-embarrassing-stuff way. Because soon folks will be going through your things. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone with you when you hear it. To catch you at near knee-collapse. Hand you a tissue. Give you a chest to lean into. And if you’re luckier, you won’t. So you can spend the loneliness alone. Instead of giving a comfort-them speech, as the pain on their face is worse than all the rest of it. But sometimes a breath accompanies that first day. A tinge of hope in the quicksand. Not because the sky hasn’t darkened to soon-to-storm clouds. Or because watching friends swirl beer bottles and front-porch-laugh doesn’t give you an ache you’re ashamed you feel. But because you keep having those first days. Have for more than thirty years spinning seasons with the earth. And somehow, you’re still here.
If I Could Run
If only for one day, I could run. Marathon distance or quick sprints through the streets from my dreams. No longer trapped by this born-slowed-down heart. Sewn up and seamed, each beat out-of-step. Feel a freedom, a redemption. Unkempt hair blowing dark, tangled mess. In steady paces as lungs fill with tree-blessed, wind-blown breath. Tracing deep patterned time. Embracing laced feet, through uphill climb, drum-pressing concrete. Aria Sparrow. Violin wren. Cardinal concerto. Rustled-leaf-penned orchestral accompaniment playing bone marrow Zen. Singing drizzled rain that mixes with welcome sweat. Gazelle-leapt steps of liberty. No longer subject to blood and brain that won’t behave. Without constraints or feigning brave. If only for one day.