“State of Grace” was first published in Offshoots 14 – Writing from Geneva (2017). The poem and my process for writing it were featured by National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) in April 2017.
State of Grace
It’s a bit like
that moment when you’re asleep but realize someone is
on the fire-escape trying to open your window
and you hear them freeze just before they jump off and run away
your due date has passed and, while setting the table, your back muscles
decide to rise and finger their way forward, `round your ribs and
grip each other over your belly for that first whopping contraction,
or like that dripping August afternoon
in West Virginia when you were sweating out a game of checkers
on the front porch with Grandpa and you saw a way to beat him,
but couldn’t stand the thought of him losing so you goofed on purpose.
Yes, it’s like that, only this time, when it hits you,
it lowers your shoulders and drops your head because you’ve been up all night sorting out fifty years of stuff from your parents’ basement and you remember
where you hid that purple starred sparkly marble from your brother after that fight
and you know exactly what to do —
you make your way to the defunct freezer, fingertip the metal ice cube tray
still on the top shelf to the left where it’s always been and you feel for it —
tangible proof the past can become forgivably present
and you clasp that last piece of a smooth rounded past
in the palm of your hand and head for the stairs leading to the kitchen where you know your brother is sitting in his old spot at the table just staring into his old bowl of cold oatmeal he never eats and you plop that marble right into the thick of it.
by Elizabeth Boquet