Kelley Jean White: Two Poems
Nobody Talks About Benjamin | You will have to correct me
Nobody Talks About Benjamin
who led town meeting in leather shorts.
Everyone knew him as a farm boy, 1919,
everyone knew his farm. We waved
when he drove by with his mother
in the little red sports car with the top
rolled down. We never saw her with
out dark glasses. We laughed at her Boston
Red Sox cap.
We didnít mind that he wore kilts
and wasnít Scottish. We didnít mind
that he dyed his hair. On Old Home Day
we didnít notice that heíd pierced his
nipples and rode bare-chested on the life
guard float. (He was seventy, we didnít
care.) We sent junior high school
kids to take an oral history. Voted
him head of the Historical Fund. Just
wished his boyfriend would stop acting
like a sissy. His mother would have hated
those chintz curtains in the barn.
You will have to correct me
Iíve never seen it. But I imagine gray
concrete pavement, cracked, with weeds,
broken glass glinting in corners, a charred
metal drum, damp refuse, and brick walls
unchanged, but heavier mesh added
to protect the windows. PS-1117. A number.
Or you have told me the name and Iíve
forgotten. The entrance to the boyís room
down a blackened stairwell, your fifth-grade
classroom now with the windows boarded.
You have walked away from the house
which was once your grandmotherís
and today is packed with furniture and guests.
You have given your gift and the toast
for the fiftieth anniversary but your fingers
were around the worn-smooth ball, rubbing
the sutures even as the last dish was served.
You need the old glove, dry and tighter now,
you throw harder, body bent in the school
lot, again and again pushing a perfect break,
and in the rhythm of disappointment,
emptiness become release.
Kelley Jean White is a New Hampshire native with degrees
from Dartmouth and Harvard Medical School. She's been an inner city pediatrician
for more than twenty years. Her work appears throughout the small small press
and in journals such as Nimrod, Poet Lore, Rattle, Journal of the American Medical
Association, Journal of Medical Humanities, and most
recently in Melic Review. She has several collections in
print, most recently a full-length collection, LATE from
The People's Press, Baltimore. Her most recent chapbook,
Against Medical Advice, is available through Pudding House Publications. She currently
serves as poetry editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal of the arts.