6.03 / March 2011

Two Poems

Self-Portrait with Ghosts & Projectors

listen to this poem

If you knew me after my dad died, when I wanted
to be a cathedral woman, all stone, no need                        for worshippers-

alone, me encamped in his flannel shirts, eleven years old, trying
hard not to gaze at boys-

The speed of this southbound train coupled with my hiking boots & highlighter-
orange dress-Spinoza might say my body is collision-                        the tuba case

between my knees, backpack heavy with wine
stolen from my mom’s wedding                        at the nursing home chapel-

If you knew me before my dad died, when I pierced
my nose to spite my face- he walked laps

around the house to soothe                         his rage, said he missed
my music. He called church the best babysitter, said I looked best

in a starched alb-                         did he know I was rehearsing
for a holy career, did he know I bought into that God-

Oh host of fake fathers, please hold me                         accountable-
I’m sick of self’s numb borders, dull train bound for someplace

I don’t know yet-

Prayers for the Tape

listen to this poem

In bed with a peanut butter & banana sandwich-me
in my antique orange dress & my sister with her damaged eyes.

Dad’s same body                        on the screen,

some years of him                        alive. Polo shirts, khakis-
inside-pocket footage.                        Family thighs converted to DVD-

fuzz & darkness to the beat of Mummer’s music, light
like hours             of firm hand across the eyelid.  (& those conversations

we weren’t supposed to hear. Camera left on                        while we played dolls on the lawn.)

Christmas Eve, my sister asked Mom whether the emptiness has been edited out-

I might have asked this before

the night I dreamt I could edit what I said to Dad just after I said it.
My stutter cut-

Maybe we need that hour of Dad’s lint, aural evidence
of what we won’t admit-

Maybe we need the night we brushed our teeth, said our prayers for the tape.

The year I found every Easter egg, proud to show Dad our matching dresses & our baskets,
their uneven weight-

Megan Williams is currently creating a cradle for her first book of poems in Boise, Idaho. She recently received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence, where she received the John B. Santoianni Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, Opium, Mudlark, and Ducts.
6.03 / March 2011