Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Allison Cundiff

Oct 1, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Snapshot

In the snapshot I am four, I think
standing bent, hands on my knees.
I had just raced my brother, the mean one
who wouldn’t let me pet my dog one last time
before my father put her down.

My mother wasn’t home. She worked nights
at a bookstore called B Dalton. The sign was in
a cursive font I was just learning to read,
thinking, oh, that B makes the bee sound.
She’d stand there in her brown hair and brown eyes
and move books around and sit behind a tall counter
shared by a few workers: a young girl who chewed gum
with her mouth open, a man with a beard and heavy part,
who was gentle with my mother, and mom.

Left to forage for my own dinner, I kicked my brother
in his white shin, and he reached to grab me,
the comic clenched in his other hand.
But I was smaller. And I slipped between his legs,
racing, his breath behind me, out the door,
jumping over the lawnmower my father hovered over,
circling the house, the dogs barking in chase,
and ending in Natalie Scottoman’s yard,
where her father, an amateur birdwatcher
outside with his camera, looked up.

I threw my body up up into the jungle gym,
where Natalie waited with her brother Steven,
their hands full of rocks, to pelt at Timmy
if he came any closer.

He backed away, his finger pointing at me
in his defeat. My breath heaved back into my chest.
“I’ll get you,” he said, and her father
snapped the picture.

__

Wrapping the Hives

I’ve seen old timers wrap their hives before a storm
with old tarp, drop cloths, one even pulled a blanket, hand-stitched
by a silent wife. He lifts it from the cab of his pickup,
the door groaning, and I think, that’s the kind of love I want.

That night I find the afghan my aunt Featie knitted
after her son shot himself, that boy who would sit on my lap
in the backseat of the Malibu when our mothers cracked the windows
during winter to smoke, though we hated it. Their long fingers
gripping the steering wheel and eyes in the rearview mirror,
the fat on his fingers still, drumming my thigh and the smell of his black hair
after a day of running in the tall grass. He did it
sitting on the end of a bed at the Best Western off Highway 70.
She knitted all year, all her grief knotted into Kilcarra wool.
that folds dark like taffy, heavy in my trunk.

With the storm coming from the north, I lift the top of the hive
where a cluster of sisters coax their brown bottomed queen
to eat their whitest honey, their wings quiet in the wind.
She moves from cell to cell to deposit shimmering eggs
that will grow into another sister.
I stand in the icy grass. I lay a sugar board above them,
and wrap the white-cold quilt around their stores.

__

Her Milk Came In
Her milk came in
            two days after it was over

pools of it every time
            she lifted her arms.

Rosemary, nearly deaf, 
            drove over, a canvas bag on her shoulder
            with iceberg lettuce, frozen into cups
            to slip into the girl’s bra.
It is what they all had used back when.  
The frozen sea green leaves
      wilted slowly against 
          her swollen breasts.
__

Allison Cundiff is an adjunct Professor of English at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri and an English teacher at Parkway North High School in Creve Coeur, Missouri. She is a graduate of Truman State University (BA English Literature) and the University of Missouri (MA in English Literature, MEd in Secondary Education). Her publications include three books of poetry, Just to See How It Feels (2018, Word Press), Otherings (2016, Golden Antelope Press), and In Short, A Memory of the Other on a Good Day, co-authored with Steven Schreiner, (2014, Golden Antelope Press). Her non-fiction is featured in The Pragmatic Buddhist, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, Feminist Teacher, and In Layman’s Terms Literary Journal; her fiction can be found at Hot Flash Fiction; her poetry is featured in The Chariton Review and OxMag. She lives in St. Louis.

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