Written by Margaret Ann Kirkpatrick
These poems come from Trinity member Margaret Ann Kirkpatrick. Margaret Ann and her family have attended Trinity for many years, and it’s a joy to get to share her creativity with you. We encourage other poets to submit their work to us – email@example.com.
All around us, silence and sound at once
Bibles and pens tucked into pew pockets.
Church moves forward in a pattern
Deeply ingrained, singing and liturgy blending
Easily into a spoken song
Forgotten by the brain, remembered by the tongue
Grabbing the right words at the last second.
Hands move between notebook, program, bag
In a scrabbling effort to find snacks, pens
Just the right object to distract the three-year-old
Kindly (and then not so kindly) asking
Loudly in a toddler whisper for applesauce,
Making silent, focused squeezing and sucking
Noises until, spent, the applesauce packet
Obviously gets thrown to the ground.
Patiently, her older brother scoops up the trash
Quietly bumping his head on the pew.
Red-faced, he straightens back up just
So she can throw her water bottle down again.
Toddler clasped to his side, listening with his heart
Under his somber blue jacket, my husband
Views the pastor as he speaks
With silent, straight-faced joy
X-rayed on his darkly freckled face
Yearning towards truth with
Zero lies, the only kind we find here.
Summer break, in blond morning time
My dad and I hike down the path
With our borrowed dog and delicate rods
To fish in a river near a railroad track.
Dad loves facts and answers my queries
About sediment, currents, quiet fish ways.
We fill the air with handsome chatter.
But I want to talk about my faith.
Instead we hook bait, piercing the worms.
Dad teaches me how to cast and swears Jesus!
When his line gets caught in mine.
We catch nothing. On our path back
A train is sniffing along the tracks.
My dad, never reckless, says
This time, let’s run across.
The train is an iron fury, bellowing smoke.
It shoves its way past us.
My father tries to catch his breath.
Even brushing death, I cannot speak.
A fish, unhooked, lapping the water
Mouthing words it will not swallow, nor utter.
The metaphor is too easy to make
But I will make it anyway. This morning,
Piled into the fifteen-passenger van,
Kids six deep, babies strapped in
Guitar and backpacks and stroller and lunches
And then the moment when I turn the key
And not only does the engine not turn over
But the dashboard clock suddenly reverses
To September first, the year two thousand
Like the battery dying transformed our van
Into a time machine that only activates
When nothing else can.
When the words “dead battery”
Feel like a poem waiting to be written
About a woman with six kids, her hair in tired pigtails
After a late night shower left her hair in a Medusa tangle;
When the words “dead battery” feel like a direct description
Of my heart and tired brain, when the words “dead battery”
Are all I can think of as I try the ignition again, again
As if hoping will re-ignite the cheerful sound
Of a car starting, of going somewhere, of feeling something else
Besides tired, depleted, worried, worn out.
In September of two thousand, I was twenty-three years old.
Back then, a dead battery was a vague concept
That people who drove cars talked about. Without a license,
Riding a bus, holding the pole when the bus took the curves,
Dreaming to myself, I had no idea
That a dead battery could be a metaphor for motherhood
And how there was no magic charge to revive it.
Yet somehow, after moving my six children and their gear
And buckling my life’s work into a smaller van
I arrive at school with one minute to spare
And climb out of the car, charged again.