Emily Kingery

B-roll

When the revolution is edited for television, it will

show me under a broken-ribbed umbrella on my way

to human resources. My colleagues will hold boxes

emptied of their reams. Some will rattle with the last

potted plants and photo frames. The plants will look

alien on the screen. The photos will be old, snapped

in another presidency. The high renovated windows

and bricks will look too crisp for visitor traffic and

my poets will have gone to the riots. In my office,

I will shake the rain over the empty chairs and

gather my notes for the empty chairs in the rooms

piping circulated air. I will open the folders and

my mouth and the camera will cut to a lie of white

boys in red caps who are studying business, or

how to demand second helpings of stones when

the bread has all been buried. If you wind them, they

say money and jobs and black on black and they

ask God to unlearn to listen. The story that will run

is on investment, but the story of my poets pouring

milk over chemical burns will be buried, and I will leave

and come back with my umbrella. I will leave and I will

come back for them until I’m buried with the bread.

Marshmallow Test

It turns dark at the backyard barbecue

and the lawn chairs collapse. Dark beer

sputters on our shorts and shoes and

wine has purpled all the towels inside.

The men in their forties who have read

the great philosophers are balancing

mid-priced liquor on their foreheads

and the women are keeping score. I am

dizzy and charring all the marshmallows.

Who is he? they say, because I am giggling,

because I am drunk and my heart is good

as a bubble on the tongue or a hydrangea

shaking its petals to the dark of the yard.

I think of you opening the door in the hall

when I am too drunk to say your name but

awake enough to say marry me. How you

spread your hand in my hair, how we tangle

like tree roots though you are young and

you answer, tomorrow. This is when I know

you will slide to the fire, and I will drop

what sugar I spear from the ash while you

fill and refill your cup in some other dark,

and we will unhand our secret for good.

Growing Season

Your wife grows tomatoes in your yard and they are

perfect. They are round like clown noses for the baby

to grab and they shine like ornaments she will learn

to hook and hang in time. There are enough tomatoes

for your wife to share with the town you live in, to leave

blanketed in tea towels on the porches of women

who used to be my neighbors, too. Your wife borrows

clothespins to hang your bed linen when she runs out

after the diapers. You did not tell her the story of the dog

whose hip broke in late-stage cancer, whose diapers

I helped your mother change. When the dog died,

you said it felt like losing a son. You never had a son.

Your wife does not need to know this to love you, and

she does not need to know we asked you to lift the dog

and you fled the kitchen in disgust. She does not need

to know I loved someone better than you, and when you

tore a light fixture from the ceiling in rage, I watched it

break on floor. She does not need to think of me at all

crawling in search of glass. She runs her fingers over

the vines in the garden and fills a basket while the baby

sleeps. You named the baby together. The neighbors

brought loaves of zucchini bread tied in cellophane

and pink ribbon. They said she has her father’s smile,

his eyes, his brain. When she babbles, she says Daddy

as if she loves you. When your wife repeats it, coaxing her

to say it, she does not need for any of it to be true.

Emily Kingery is an Associate Professor of English at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, where she teaches courses in literature, writing, and linguistics. Her work appears or is forthcoming in multiple literary journals, including Burningword Literary Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Eastern Iowa Review, Gingerbread House, High Shelf Press, New South, PROEM, Prometheus Dreaming, Quercus, and Telepoem Booth, and she has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. She serves on the Board of Directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a non-profit organization that supports writers in the Quad Cities community.

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