Three Poems by Casey Knott

As Then If

The toddler waving good-bye to
her father’s casket as if goodnighting

the moon or snipping the balloon
worn at the wrist,

and the pastor saying we shouldn’t
grieve but be happy for the deceased

now in the hands of the lord, as if
death was a welcome thing at 32 or 4,

and the folks milling about
the parlor lawn, their “how’s it going”

gestures empty but necessary
as the patting down of pockets for a lost

key, which is to say
“I’m still here.”

I come home with spring
buds blazing neon in the bright

blue of day and the dog sitting
on the hill nosing the wind and sun,

really drinking it in like a statue might
or a star holding space

in a constellation, the unwelcome
absence of which might become

a different name.
I am not happy,

and the dog does not appear as if
it is anything but

splendidly still here.

New as the day you are

Maybe you shouldn’t live
as if every day might
be the last, rather
a first—the time
you skinny dipped
like a blind fish, the night
reaching as a looking glass,
preparing your body
for admission. First kiss,
first Bob Dylan song you heard,
first time staying up till
the sunrise on the porch
with friends, lively
till the end for the world
you solved. The last has nothing
on the first time I saw the
mountains grow like strange
moons into view
from the backseat of my dad’s sedan
on that Western road, having
known only the prairie,
the open flat-lands.
The surprise of feeling my
son stir in me—a bee
in a glass jar and the first
time I held him, knowing
even then the fledge
of him would one day follow
a wind his own—what
can you do but mark the firsts
in the string of our trajectories—
meandering as balloons
released to a sky obscured
by weather—bucking, shining,
headlong away from sight.

Want What You Have

It’s what I tell my kids as much
to remind me—despite
the mess of a day’s worn shoe
pitched at the neck or the haunt
of algorithms promising a destiny
I shouldn’t live
without—that I am me
here with the goddamn church bells
pronouncing their rhyme
on a warm autumn evening, the lawn
Monet’d to the breast with warm
yellows and orange and the bee
who landed in my glass of wine,
swimming, survived by my own
fingers, a-drip, careful
as the rooting up of plantains
along the bones of a barn
abandoned long ago
like every New Years resolution.

Casey Knott is the author of Ground Work (Main Street Rag, 2018). She is the poetry editor for The Wax Paper literary journal and her work has appeared most recently in Gulf Stream, Storm Cellar, december, Cold Mountain Review, The New Territory, The Meadow, Cimarron Review, Sugar House Review, and Rumble Fish Quarterly. Facebook: Casey Knott. Instagram: Casey Knott. Twitter: @CaseyKnott10