Thursday Jul 19

KearneyMeg Meg Kearney’s second book of poems for adults, Home By Now (Four Way Books, 2009), was the winner of the 2010 PEN New England L.L. Winship Award as well as a finalist for the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year and the Paterson Poetry Prize.   She is also author of An Unkindness of Ravens (BOA Editions, 2001) and a novel-in-verse for teens, The Secret of Me (Persea Books, 2005).  Her first picture book, Trouper the Three-Legged Dog, is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2012 with illustrator E.B. Lewis. Her poems have been featured on A Writer’s Almanac and have appeared in Poetry, Agni, and Ploughshares. Former Associate Director of the National Book Foundation—sponsor of the National Book Awards—she has also taught poetry at the New School University.  She is now Director of the Solstice Creative Writing Programs of Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA. (www.megkearney.com) . The poems below are from the forthcoming sequel to Meg's young-adult novel in verse.
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The Day My Father Died

I thought it was a joke.
They called me out of class—
Mom’s voice said Dad was dead.
I dropped my phone. They sent me home.
 
They called me out of class—
said I should call my Mom.
I dropped my phone. They sent me home
where everything was surreal—
 
They said I should call Mom.
But her voice was strange, a stranger’s.
Everything was surreal—
our house was filled with people.
 
Mom’s voice was strange, a stranger’s—
“Lizzie,” she said, and hugged me.
Our house was filled with people
who wanted to hug me, too.
 
“Lizzie,” Mom said, and hugged me—
we stood that way a long time.
Whoever wanted to hug me, too—?
I wanted them to leave us alone.
 
We stood that way a long time.
Neither of us could cry.
I wanted everyone to leave us alone—
I wanted this to be a bad dream.
 
Neither of us could cry—
crying would mean it was true.
I wanted this to be a bad dream
but I heard “heart attack” and “car”—
 
Crying would mean it was true:
Dad had pulled the car over, he knew—
but I heard “heart attack” and “car”
and wanted to shout, “You’re all lying!”
 
Dad had pulled the car over. He knew
it was his heart, exploding—
I wanted to shout, “You’re all lying!”
Where was Dad? He’d show them
 
it wasn’t his heart, exploding.
It was April first, a trick!
Where was Dad? He’d show them.
He’d walk through that door.
 
It was April first, a trick!
Mom’s voice said Dad was dead.
He couldn’t walk through that door.
I thought it was a joke.
 

Dad’s Funeral
 
Bob drove us to the church and walked in first
with Mom on his arm. Kate and I followed
close behind, trying not to see the hearse
parked out front. I gripped Kate’s hand and swallowed
some venomous thing rising in my throat.
“In the name of the Father, and the Son…”
Father Tom began, and by the first note
of Amazing Grace there was not one
dry eye in the place except for Mom’s. Stiff
with grief, she leaned on Bob. I held Kate’ hand,
which was cold like mine. People sang as if
their hearts would break. But mine will never mend,
I thought. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
we sang again, when they put him in the ground.



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photo credit Angela Krajick