She handed me a stone, a leaf, a mustard seed.
I kept them safe, pillowed on pink satin,
read to them every day, hummed
my grandfather’s red harmonica sometimes.
The house tilted, hollowed when she left,
spilling grief in her absence.
Mismatched hearts choked in our house
where streaks of anger burst, blurred
each dinner, each new dawn.
The seed, the leaf dried then cracked,
bits of dust gathering and blowing away.
Under hushed violets and hesitant snows
the stone still pulses, traces of pink clinging.
A reminder of shadowed nights,
a blanket, her hands tucking me in.
WELCOME TO ROOM 307
You sit in the back of class,
write notes on your arm
where pink puckers the inner skin
Earbuds plugged to a world
you choose, abandon mine,
and I wonder where you are —
not here, not now. Not with us.
For us? Against?
Your eyes meet mine, and you jolt,
quench the almost-grin that slipped in,
quick look away. Oh, don’t you see?
I used to be you. (Scared.
Of you, of me — everything.)
I smile. This day, this week — even
the overly long year — won’t last
Slouch into the room, echo those sad
tunes. The moon will wash
your midnight tears. Dawn waits
at the curve of earth.
“Earth is crammed with heaven and every bush afire with God but only he who sees takes off his shoes.” — EB Browning.
K.B. Ballentine has a M.A. in Writing and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Poetry. Her latest collection, The Perfume of Leaving, has just been awarded the 2016 Blue Light Press Book Award and will be published this summer. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and publications, including Alehouse, Tidal Basin Review, and Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. In 2014 she was a finalist in the Ron Rash Poetry Awards and, in 2006, a finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Award. She was awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in 2006 and 2007. Fragments of Light (2009) and Gathering Stones (2008) were published by Celtic Cat Publishing. Her work also appears in River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-first Century (2015), Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee (2013) and Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets (2011). Her third collection, What Comes of Waiting, won the 2013 Blue Light Press Book Award.