Monthly Archives: June 2012

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Robin Robertson

Keys to the Doors
by Robin Robertson

for Eilidh

I loved your age of wonder: your third and fourth
and fifth years spent astonished, widening your eyes
at each new trick of the world—and me standing there,
solemnly explaining how it was done. The moon and stars,
rainbows, photographs, gravity, the birds in the air,
the difference between blood and water.
In true life? you would say, looking up
and I would nod, like some broken-hearted sage,
knowing there would be no answers soon
to all the big questions that were left, to cruelty and fear,
to age and grief and death, and no words either.
And you, like me, will sit and shake your head.
In true life? Yes, my sweet, strong daughter, I’m afraid
there is all this as well, and this is it: true life.

June 21, 2012, The New York Review of Books

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Mary Mackey

Turkeys
by Mary Mackey

One November
a week before Thanksgiving
the Ohio river froze
and my great uncles
put on their coats
and drove the turkeys
across the ice
to Rosiclare
where they sold them
for enough to buy
my grandmother
a Christmas doll
with blue china eyes

I like to think
of the sound of
two hundred turkey feet
running across to Illinois
on their way
to the platter
the scrape of their nails
and my great uncles
in their homespun leggings
calling out gee and haw and git
to them as if they
were mules

I like to think of the Ohio
at that moment
the clear cold sky
the green river sleeping
under the ice
before the land got stripped
and the farm got sold
and the water turned the color
of whiskey
and all the uncles
lay down
and never got up again

I like to think of the world
before some genius invented
turkeys with pop-up plastic
thermometers
in their breasts
idiot birds
with no wildness left in them
turkeys that couldn’t run the river
to save their souls

As heard on the Writer’s Almanac (Nov. 21, 2011).

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