If I could, I’d use
my recently purchased cell phone
to call the pay phone outside
the community swimming pool
in Fairview Park, Normal, Illinois,
that summer when I was eleven,
and the country 200.
And I’d have the phone ring
just as I was passing by on my
aqua-colored bike with 24-inch wheels.
I’d also make myself more brave
than I was at eleven.
I’d hop off the bike,
thwack the kickstand down
and answer, “Hello.”
And at the other end of the line,
I would probably not be so brave.
I’d hear that eleven-year-old voice
squeak its cusp-of-puberty
“Hello”—so like my own son
on the phone earlier tonight
as I spoke to him from a bedroom
in this creaky farmhouse
two states away from my home—
“Hello.” And I would not speak,
listening to my youthful breaths,
imagining me standing there
shirtless, hand on hip,
shouts and splashes behind me
muffled by the humid Illinois air.
No. No words. The keyhole
in the bedroom door lets in
a gem of light from the hall.
“Who—“ the boy says, “who is this?”
J.D. Scrimgeour is the author of the poetry collections The Last Miles and Territories, and he won the AWP Award for Nonfiction for Themes For English B: A Professor’s Education In & Out of Class. With musician Philip Swanson he released Ogunquit & Other Works, a CD blending music and poetry. His third poetry collection, Lifting the Turtle (Turning Point), will appear in November 2017.
I'm standing in the wind.
We had five years left to cry,
stay in, get things done.
The wordy gurdy stands
quiet in the middle of my head;
missing pieces [with just enough
shine] rubber-banded tog-
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs.
Who would have carried it this far,
up the crest between watersheds,
then quit before the downhill?
This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
When you rose from the sea
the crown of your head
touched the clouds
A conveyor belt delivers mutton and fowl.
Hot meringues suffer and collapse
under my ruthless fork.
His breath tripped over words stuck between his teeth
and tongue as sinewy shoulders curved.
The child stood, small, shivering in her tattered brown coat,
a dented, scuffed brown suitcase gripped in her hand.
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.