OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 10

Sharon Kennedy-Nolle

SPECIMENS

 

Late April and the Akebono cherry thrives

paling pink blossoms crowd every bit of branch,

a fine specimen, this tree you hit—was it

four years ago when you ran over it

drunk, before hitting the house?

Newly planted that spring, the sapling

that I’d soon stand before, wincing,

picking twisted bits of metal out of the petals,

knowing how much your dad had worried,

enough light? safe from road salt?

mulching, watering. staking

so much, so wrong . . .

 

He’s out there now, snapping

pictures of its recovery

—the same dad who threw you against walls,

smashed us up enough that I just focused

on the property damages, nothing else.

I was always too forgiving,

and caretaking memory must sometimes stunt itself,

 

like this welted trunk, long-scarred bark

over wound and you, another lovable, killable hybrid;

your flowers ghost the ground.

Sharon Kennedy–Nolle is a graduate of Vassar College and holds an MFA and doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. A recipient of scholarships from the Sarah Lawrence Summer Writing Institute and the Frost Place Summer Writing Program, she lives and teaches in New York. Her poems have appeared in Zone 3, The Round, Prism Review, SLAB, and Potomac Review among other publications. The poem “Specimens” is from her larger manuscript Black Wick concerning the recent loss of her son.