T W E N T Y - O N E
From balls of twine we wove a hammock
that stretched across young trees
and sat like royalty, the six of us
sagging on crisscrossed strings, suspended.
The leaves made shade-spots
atop our eyes and thighs
and in the wet heat the cords
cradled our heads as we slept,
the breeze tickling hair across our cheeks—
and once when we awoke
my cousin proposed, let’s pretend
we’re ten years older.
The hammock became our house,
the oldest kids our guardians
who left every morning for work.
I thought of twenty-one as impossible,
an age I would never reach,
because all I wanted was to stay small
and spend all day watching
a spider spread a web on tomato vines,
a seed knuckle a gap through dirt,
or a stream wash across a rock,
smoothing it to marble—
I wanted to listen,
to be just heart and mind,
for when I spoke my voice
seemed to shatter the air
with its insistent ringing, its ego
shaking grey into black and white.
I wanted an immortality
of my unknowing body
and kept hoping, drinking drops
of nectar from honey clover ends,
that I could store the sweetness
somewhere it wouldn’t dissolve,
so if I lost that self, that resolve,
in the quiet again I would find it,
like an epiphany.
The Jane Lumley Prize '15 : Honorable Mention
Aozora Brockman grew up on an organic vegetable farm in Central Illinois, and much of her poetry is influenced by the meditative work of weeding and harvesting. She is the recipient of the 2015 Jean Meyer Aloe Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and her creative work has been published in PANK, the Cortland Review, and Fifth Wednesday.
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