Alberto Garcia CC
Wind through the pines. Ringing in my ears.
Both persistent. I came to the mountain to think
about who matters but all I hear are tones
in my head—subtle whir of a fan, slosh of waves,
call of one distant bird whose cries never cease.
Voices outside my head can't compete.
The sound of my parents arguing is the steady
rise and fall of word swallows headed to the barn.
He had expectations, my father, that my mother
would care for him in his old age, his Parkinson's.
My mother's bee of resentment buzzed
in the background, until one day, silence.
The making of honey fell to my brother,
the one who stayed.
I am like her in all ways that matter save one.
Left with an insistent low drone loop in my head,
it drowns incomplete thoughts at birth,
expectations tiny bee corpses at my feet.
Dangling Over the River on a Fraying Rope
You listen at the window,
sixteen and dateless, afraid to expose need.
Your mother dies, becomes an abstract.
Her image wavers, voice fades to vapor.
Too soon she is silvered photograph,
squinting against harsh light.
You haunt the open window, wait
for your mother to give you a sign,
to sing down from the heavens.
We don't bury anything anymore.
Outsiders prepare the dead.
Others speak words of comfort.
Strangers dig a hole in the ground,
leaving you to fill it with fistfuls of regret.
People can reliably tell if someone is richer or poorer than average
just by looking at a neutral face without any expression. Over time,
your face comes to permanently reflect and reveal your experiences.
Source: University of Toronto
Forgive me, child, for not putting a happy face on our poverty.
Psychology research says my (and your) success depends on it.
God knows I kept my face as neutral as possible when the police
came poking around because you said Fuck that to a teacher,
or when I applied for yet another job that promised me time
with the kids and money enough to pay for food and sports gear.
Forgive me for not knowing my social class showed on my face,
the desperation etched there for all to see, where others--
wealthy, satisfied—had contentment plastered all over theirs.
Those cutting remarks, looks of disdain after asking for free school
lunches is the blush on my cheeks and cultivated blank expression.
If only people like us knew our place.
How dare we have a television, a cell phone, a steak for dinner.
We should suffer. Be the noble poor. It's written on my face.
How dare we have hope for a better future for our social class.
See, child, people judge you before they know you.
They excuse it as nonverbal behavior. It's not their fault,
they say. It's hardwired. Cue driven. They never gave us a chance.
Go forth and take all the glory you can, child. Spit in the face
of societal expectations. Don't let psychology steal your happiness.
Be the beast.
Constance Brewer’s poetry has appeared in Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop, Harpur Palate, Rappahannock Review, The Nassau Review, among other places. She is the editor for Gyroscope Review poetry magazine and the recipient of a Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship Grant in poetry. Constance is the author of Piccola Poesie: A Nibble of Short Form Poetry. She lives in Wyoming, under star-studded skies, and is a fan of Welsh Corgis, weekends, and whiteline woodcuts. www.constancebrewer.com
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