Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as
The Jiménez-Porter Writers' House at The University of Maryland. Her poems have
appeared in such journals as Best New Poets, Rhino, Redivider, and Crab Orchard
Review. She is a 2015 recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant. Her
work can be found at shevaunbrannigan.com.
The trees bloom bodega bags,
daffodils in snow.
Like a tongue, I find what's wrong.
Swollen taste buds. Buy
the bruised fruit out of season,
by summer the girls will brown
like bitten apples. The injection
in my inner cheek left a mark.
She buried the garden in bags of trash.
Then the racoons, the indoor/outdoor cats.
I woke up that morning to yowls,
coffee grounds and banana peels scattered.
The kitten who carried tampons in his teeth,
brought his kill to father's feet.
My outer cheeks are two halves of a peach.
We bored of the cherry blossoms,
began touring bars.
March was a green month. I see
petals falling from the sky, catching
in the light until they're flakes of snow.
A quarter of the year is nearly over.
I atrophy below my kneecaps.
Climbing stairs my muscles loosen
from the bone, the daffodil leaves diverge
from the stem, extend.
If I had been alive when language
was first made, I wouldn't have named
leaves any differently, or fall, uproot.
When winter leaves, spring falls.
I could die anywhere.
My Psychoanalyst Taught Me to Appreciate Clouds
That cumulonimbus cloud
is a school bus, see
the tires turn in the wind.
Arms wave from windows,
one child sleeps past her stop
and the driver is so tired
of hearing the thump of fists
he no longer does. He takes
each rote turn and the click
in his wrist sounds, he knows it
as well as buckle into belt.
Were you bullied as a child?
I was the girl asleep.
The driver would take me home,
his home, unzip my backpack,
place my books on a desk
next to a glass of milk, warm
for sleeping, I dreamt.
In the bus depot, I woke.
Dark orange rows in late fall,
the baby sitter wondering
at her extra canned peaches.
Why didn't you want to go there?
It wasn't so much her, though
the slaps—remembered so often
I've forgotten—but what came after,
home and the next morning,
I'd wake up longer in my bed.
Taking up space—if I close my
eyes, that trawl for darkness,
I almost don't. The clouds
can become anything,
like a child.
I used to live in an apartment building with another daughter's abandoned mother.
When she heard my key in the lock next to her own, she opened her door
wearing a nightgown, without her teeth in, hair in knots.
She'd whack her cane against the door. I'm lonely! and I would freeze.
Meanwhile, my therapist's eyes were deteriorating,
developing a conicular apex, he focused on his clients' voices.
By the time we met, he was a few years away from receiving a cadaver's eyes,
I asked if he could choose the color. It was all shocking.
What to say when the mother's eyes were a blue beyond nature? A girl
a floor above me was three and being abused by her parents no matter how
many times I called the police. I brought her all my stuffed animals.
When a child dies in a car crash, you see toys strapped to a telephone pole,
netted in rope against metal. Strangest thing without context, but
so are the neat rows of graves at Arlington Cemetery.
My therapist said he couldn't, it would be a corneal transplant, not iris.
I didn't know what to say after that. I went back to talking about myself.
on America's Most Wanted had the police called on them following the airing and re-airing of their episodes. They would be buying groceries, moving their produce up because the belt was broken, now they're surrounded by guns and police officers. The store manager pushing her glasses up on her nose with one finger and holding the phone to her bosom, perhaps slightly aroused and confused by that. The arrests became routine, the questioning. I'm an actor; you're a piece of shit is what you are. Confirming with the show, or carrying a headshot listing the reenactment credit on the back for circumstances such as these, who knows when a headshot leads to new work anyway, best to carry them around as a practice. When I see someone your height wearing your hair I want to run away for safety, do my civic duty and press forward through the crowd to confirm—is it you? Is it someone who looks like how I remember you thirteen years later. Your eyes inch around your face and your mouth always open talking telling me I'm too quiet or loud. I remember your voice best. They had a lineup in a dark room, each man spoke the sentence and the victim nearly collapsed at number 4. This isn't me doing this, you said. I'm shoving my way off the metro car and I can hear you same as I hear doors closing, see the back of your head on someone's body same as the ground below my feet is my bedroom floor.
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