Your Life Is Meaningless
I cannot tell you where they came from.
It seemed they appeared from the sky,
rounding the corner in their silver Camry
like a spaceship from another galaxy.
College kids, or so I thought, drunk
as shit but still clean cut, the type
you’d expect to play varsity lacrosse
and to love their mothers a bit
too much, the kind who’ll go on
to become management executives
or investment analysts with two houses
and ex-wives in three separate cities.
(No woman could ever make them
happy enough.) So when one of them
leaned out of the passenger side window
and yelled those words to no one
ahead of or behind me on the street,
I chuckled to myself but never stopped,
safe in my womb of obliviousness,
until I realized he was talking to me.
Something miraculous happened
at that moment, something I cannot
begin to describe, but as I continued
on, straight from my appointment
with the OB/GYN, where I saw him
swimming on a flat, black screen,
a shadow creature just barely visible,
a Rorschach test to anyone but me,
never in my life had my life held
more meaning, never had I felt more
achingly alive, the insight carrying me
until together we began to float,
soon-to-be mother and not-yet child,
along the empty dead-end street.
Song While the Children Are Napping
You who said you would never write
a domestic poem in your life,
praise this moment of silence,
the house a still life of chaos:
the overturned sippy cup,
the macaroni ground into the carpet
from lunch, the plastic stegosaurus
you nearly killed yourself on, stumbling
into the kitchen this morning.
Praise this stolen moment,
its second chances, the glimpse
of what you might accomplish
if you would just sit down and write,
no matter how banal or uninspiring
your immediate surroundings.
Praise the uninspiring most of all.
Elegy with a Cameo Appearance by Linda Ronstadt
for my father
You aren’t dead, but something
in the honeyed scythe
of her voice smote me
there in the middle of Target,
left me weeping in the aisles,
mourning you, and by extension,
mourning myself, remembering
how you would lift each record
like a skiff and place it gently
on the table, adjusting
the needle’s arm until the crackle
of music began. I loved the skips
the most, how you would grumble,
cursing, knocking on the shelf,
how a minute would repeat
in an endless motorcade of hours,
and this was called
childhood, as I understood it.
Neither of you was gone,
yet at that moment my own life
skipped, and for a moment
I heard its silence.
ELIZABETH KNAPP is the author of The Spite House (C&R Press), winner of the 2010 De Novo Poetry Prize selected by Richard Jackson. The recipient of the 2007 Discovered Voices Award from Iron Horse Literary Review, she has published poems in Best New Poets 2007, The Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, Barrow Street, and many other journals. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and a PhD from Western Michigan University and is currently Associate Professor of English at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.