nesting in the abandoned trailer across the holler from my house,
dear buzzard teetering on air just above my house,
you remind me of me in a photograph, circa 1983,
my face floating in profile just above my body.
Dear death omen, holler squatter, scavenger, spy,
if you’re watching, waiting for me to die, I’ve got that covered.
I’ve hovered in silhouette just above myself
since my Olan Mills girlhood, a shoulder-devil, a shoulder-haunt.
Dear buzzard, you can fly your ragged black flags.
Leave the watch to the faded ghost of me. Out of body,
just above me, she doesn’t age. Her eyes never close.
Not-Elegy for the Midwest
We’re lying on our backs in a field, yes, but we’re breathing. We’re lying
on our backs in the timothy grass, watching the trees breathe overhead,
tracing the stars into lions and spoons. We’re matting our own shapes
into the tall sweetness, our clothes folded on large, flat rocks
until we need them again. If you want to find us, you’ll find us
lying in a field, deviling the dark. You’ll hear us breathing. If you try
to bury us, know our eyes are open, our mouths are open, and no,
we’re not afraid to taste the warm, dark metallic of where we were grown.
The neighborhood a cake frosted white and my son and I sunblind in the snow,
waving to the shadow of us holding hands. The seams where our hands touch.
The seams where our shadows attach to our bodies. The seams between
the chalked ball and stick of each little a I remember my first teacher printing
on the blackboard. How they touched-- no space between them, no overlap.
My family’s in flooring. I know how hard it is to hide the place where
pieces meet. Ball and stick. My son and I standing hand in hand, one gray shape
on the snowy hill in front of our house.
-- Maggie Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Weep Up, forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2018; The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison; and Lamp of the Body. She is also the author of three prizewinning chapbooks. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation.