As a Child
I knew you as a child. We were closer in age, in that place. Yr parents
had just the right amount of money
& a space for you, & always left a light on. Mine did, too.I’m trying to describe our houses. Symmetrical white cottages w/patina
from the sun. Partially open
to the outside w/shutters. The windows had no glass in them.We lived along the quietest river, almost motionless, like a reflecting pool
but not stagnant. That was possible.
The river had no bank to ease in by, it was immediate & deepyet unthreatening. The houses were plaster w/elaborate trim & tile work.
If you looked at a detail, it revealed its math to
you for hours (bits of pictures I’ve seen of French & Greek islands).There were choruses of flowers that stayed in bloom for years. The weather,
a zephyr. There had never been a blizzard or
a mirage. Your mother worked for a doctor. She was also the doctor.The doctor’s office was made of marble but had solved the echo problem.
Neither noisy nor silent. A low hum far away
even tho it was happening close. The doctor helped peopletelepathically (there were no appointments) & simultaneously typed up
progress reports (that later evaporated).
The healing never ended. & there were cures. There wasa firepit & a concert hall inside the doctor’s office. We cried about
orchestras. We walked around hot
on one side. I knew you as a teenager, all those years& we never got bored b/c everything was beautiful & everyone was
honest. Enough information to attend to for
hundreds of lifetimes. The whole of history, w/o the tyrantIn our village, the bad things that happened to you did not happen to you.One day, out of curiosity, we kissed.
I took you in my hands. A voice whispered ‘finally.’ &&No, I didn’t do that. I held your hand. That’s better,we agreed. That’s better for us. Our agreement, a lock & key affixed to no surfacewe made ourselves innocent again.I knew you as a child, & so the future grew entirely different
Copyright © 2017 by Stevie Howell
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Stevie Howell is an Irish-Canadian writer and editor. Stevie’s poetry has appeared in BOAAT, Prairie Schooner, Gigantic Sequins, The Cossack Review, and Prelude. A second collection of poetry, I left nothing inside on purpose, is forthcoming spring 2018 from Penguin Random House Canada. Stevie is the poetry editor at This Magazine and is an MFA candidate in creative writing at NYU. www.steviehowell.ca
Michigan Quarterly Review is an eclectic interdisciplinary journal of arts and culture that seeks to combine the best of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with outstanding critical essays on literary, cultural, social, and political matters. The flagship journal of the University of Michigan, MQR draws on lively minds here and elsewhere, seeking to present accessible work of all varieties for sophisticated readers from within and without the academy.
In addition to choice creative work, we publish special issues dedicated to timely themes, such as Vietnam: Beyond the Frame and Bookishness: The New Fate of Reading in the Digital Age, and special clusters of essays on individual topics, like Motown, Politics and Detroit, or the Age of Obama. MQR has published work by Margaret Atwood, Juan Cole, Robert Coles, Carol Gilligan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alan Liu, Barry Lopez, Czeslaw Milosz, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Rorty, Eric J. Sundquist, John Updike, William Julius Wilson, and other authorities in their fields.