My son reaches for my sympathy, constantly.He wants more of me—this boy nearly grown into a man wants more.I could tell him that when he was merely a buttonstitched to the lining of my coat,a bead tucked into my shell, a kernel of wheatstarring itself to an ovular wound in my earth,I shook,carried my body to the floor, held it there,felt his fetus ingesting—my day-to-day existencepre-packaged and fertilized in a 14x70 trailer house;I was windowed, the trailer door knocked loose,knob spilling with universe,boundaries tampered with, renamed:the way my husband never hit me but always left a bruise.Now that my husband is gone,the windowpanes indulge the sky,and my son stands in the kitchen daring me to flee—light shoved into his eyes like broken crystal.He can't see the organic parts of me stitched, tucked,starred—the wound of his father sucklinga monster already grown,consuming all my sympathy.
“Trailer House” from SLAUGHTER THE ONE BIRD: by Kimberly Ann Priest.
Published by Sundress on July 15, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Kimberly Ann Priest.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird, finalist in the American Best Book Awards, and chapbooks The Optimist Shelters in Place, Parrot Flower, and Still Life. She is an associate poetry editor for Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and assistant professor at Michigan State University.
"Priest’s poems do the hard work of expanding the language for exploring the experience of abuse and trauma, which means they expand our understanding of (in)humanity. These poems are never predictable. They are like flashes of light in shadowed rooms—dark rooms—with bright, illuminating flashes."
— Sue William Silverman, author of If the Girl Never Learns
"In Slaughter the One Bird, Kimberly Ann Priest takes the pain and trauma of a life and creates art. Priest is a poet I cannot stop reading—her skillfulness with language, imagery, form, and story pulled this reader in, leaving me breathless with each and every poem—'curtains of chrysalis and wing / butterfly houses for sale on the road to embargo / his elbow in the mouth of a wasp nest // all honey, no sting.' This poignant and haunting work is unafraid to explore trauma and survival. These are powerful, courageous poems that are needed in the world—they give voice to the voiceless and they make space for the vulnerable, ultimately showing us the strength to make it through. Slaughter the One Bird is a remarkable collection that reminded me of the incredible power of women poets and well-written poems."
— Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides
"Priest opens herself to her readers like a surgeon, driving heartache and heartbreak home as though her poems were scrawled by a pen clenched in an angry fist. Slaughter the One Bird is brave, beautiful, irreverent, and incredibly relevant, its narrator travailing a landscape of domesticity gone sour, the scars of childhood, and all the secrets that make us who we are."
— Holly Day, author of In This Place, She is Her Own