Just to Be Sure
He could have been dead and get all he got out of life . . . He might as well be one of them monks…he might as well be in a monkery…She didn’t understand it. She didn’t like the thought that something was being put over her head. She liked the clear light of day. She liked to see things.
(Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor)
Why do people have to go and be shut
doors? I wouldn’t need to pry them
open if they would just speak plain.
Porches were meant to be sat on and
windows wide, anything else hoity-toity.
I don’t trust those who don’t holler—moms
who don’t smack, marrieds who smolder
like banked coals. Flame, so I can stomp
you down. I don’t want to wonder if I’m
damned or saved, would rather live nasty
just to be sure. All of you quiet ones can go
to hell. Why else were we given tongues?
Sunup to sundown we’ve been thrown
together. Might as well pass the time.
The not-yet stretches before rising. I scan
for it, a dowser with forked twig. My feet
bruise dry grass, my hands tremble.
From branch and wire, harsh caws suture
today to yesterday, hope to hope, a rough
cover for nakedness, a sack, a shroud.
The lids of the hillsides beg lifting. Within
one, the future sleeps, bewitched, awaiting
a hand beneath its neck, the touch of lips.
Folk tales never speak of failure—the prince
who keeps hunting, magic words that open
nothing. Fingering worn talismans, I ride on.
Blue skies are always trying to peak through,
she writes, and I think of jagged optimism
insistent on rending gloom, uplifting
so much better than merely peeking, timid
and servile, which does nothing to heaviness
apart from noting wear. Her skies raise muscular
shoulders to rescue me. In my next fog of funk,
I know now to expect their spacious intrusion,
will lie where I’ve fallen, arms spread, awaiting
their thrust. Mothers know things we don’t.
I strive, I strive
as waves shimsham ashore.
as waves shave beach.
What shall I, what shall I
as waves shiver and slam.
as waves say hush.
as waves rush to plash.
as waves still, never still.
Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press) and Forms Most Marvelous (forthcoming with dancing girl press). Her work has found many homes, some of which are: The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Red Earth Review, Panoplyzine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Inflectionist Review.