In my next life, if I get one, I will be the damsel
in need of a prince and a horse or maybe
an entire army to relieve my distress. Enough
of this equality and independence. Tired
as SleepingBeauty and too skilled in the scrubbing
arts, the serving and hauling required of the maid
to an evil relative, I hang on the cusp of some
prince’s arrival. My problem: I take too much
satisfaction in moving the couch myself. I am
only now, as fifty looms and the prospect of a hero
to free me shrinks, seeing how furniture moved
by the back and biceps of another can create
a desirable form of magic.
My Grandmother Wears St. Jude
His medal pinned always to the edge
of her bra, then shifted at night to the soft
flannel of a nightgown. He is her sentinel
and guide, a mindset that all events and people
in her life are hopeless causes, in need of salvation:
a plucking from the edge of disaster
that only he can provide. What fear and cowering
have brought her to this place? What single
event shapes such a world view?
And even as I joke with her, laugh off
her fluttering cautions, I have pictured,
many times, the fallen body
of a fourteen-year old son, splayed across
damp rocks on a bank where sun
and the Grasse River clasped one another.
My father’s brother, a ghost uncle,
gone before the family could move itself
out a generation through him. In every prayer
and desperate warning, each moment
her arms held us still and pulled us back
from the world was the thought of Jack,
of St. Jude and fear, the afternoon when her life,
at thirty-four, became a litany of moments
to be survived.
© Beth Konkoski
Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Story, The Potomac Review, Mid-American Review, and Gargoyle. Her chapbook, Noticing the Splash, was published in 2010 by BoneWorld Press.