Friday, April 22, 2016

Brandi Kary- A Poem


People came
to see
our old tree
the one carved
 by lightening
the summer of 1983

Some say they could
still hear the embers burn—
The crackles of miracle
the shape of the Virgin
Mary, her tilted head and all.
And what did I know at nine years old?
about mothers
about virgins
about miracle

But there in the summer heat
men came crawling in shame
with bloody knees
and sins in their pockets.

Gum wrappers
in the shapes of nightingales
the bursting pores of sweet oranges,
braided bread, polished coins,
carnations, candles, and the tears of their mothers.

Once in awhile
one would come
with a newborn in her arms
she would lay her snowy breasts
inside the hollowed tree
red rubies among the ashes
and she would pray for milk
and she would pray for us all.

I would stay,
I would wait
until I grew bored by prayers
and bored of women
and bored of what
I could not understand.
I’d go inside to eat popsicles,
thumb through the shopping catalogs
and sing in the living room
 with my sisters
 to Madonna
playing on the radio.

For years I continued to dream
of the virgin in the tree—
she was always pink, she was always blue
and my own mother was always there
resurrecting through the bark and roots
and mom was dressed like Madonna,
fishnet tights, ruby lips,
leather bracelets,
black crop top.

She had a gift
maybe a chicken
sometimes a pig
always my former self—
she would tell me to pray
and I would say
I don’t know how
I don’t know
what that means.

This dream continues for as long as I can remember—
as dreams often do.

That morning of mother’s death I
drove 86 miles north to the old house
to that old tree that stood in the middle
of the landscape of my childhood.

And I sat to listen for the women of my past
their prayers like secrets
while the sun burned a hole through my back.

And I knew then what I knew as a child
 that something
 had to be done
about all these dreams
and women
and just like you
already know
what’s going to happen next,
I knew it too.

There with the fading sun
I cranked up Madonna
on the car stereo
and together  
we sang the mantras
of my youth:
Like a Virgin, Open your Heart, Justify my Love,
Like a Prayer, Express Yourself, Deeper and Deeper,
True Blue, Crazy for You, Dress you up in my Love,
Holiday, Border Line, Rescue Me, Material Girl,
Papa Don’t Preach, Lucky Star, Ray of Light,
Who’s that Girl?

That girl is me.


Brandi Kary is a mother, educator, and writer who lives in Pacific Grove, California. She currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Monterey Peninsula College and Cal State Monterey Bay. Both she and her anthropologist husband enjoy dragging their kids all over the world to gain inspiration. Her poetry has recently appeared in Homestead Review, The Voices Project, and Flutter Poetry Journal. 

1 comment:

  1. Brandi, so glad to see your work here and am looking forward to hearing you read at MPC tonight!