It Happened on a Sleep
They call it date
but for me
it was sleep:
I, a small
boat, still and calm, rocking
on midnight vodka blanket sea,
salt water seeping through
You, a sailor, or no, an octopus,
tentacles wrapping around me
in soggy dreams.
And while it happened,
I dreamt of Chagall-
lovers in Vence, their lingering ghost
an indigo goat,
out in the moonfloating field,
an embrace etched in paint,
safe in the blue.
You were such a quiet man.
And yet it’s only recently
I stopped hearing you,
the rising sea gurgling beneath
my soaking pillow.
Grandpa in the Nursing Home
A two hour drive away and all he could say was
“God damn right! How the hell are ya?” and “God
damn son of a bitch.” The stroke got his tongue.
“Tap dance for him,” Mom said. “Come on, dance
for Grandpa.” And he would have clapped except
he could only move one arm - the other paralyzed
after hitting Grandma one too many times and falling,
heart-hammered, to the floor of the factory,
finding to survive world war wasn’t enough to earn
a nice, clean ending back home. And Grandma
found another lover, one whose fists were less
particular, and Grandpa must have cried as hard
as when his mother died. Her name was Anna. She
was Slovakian. She was tender. He was only thirteen.
I wonder if he saw her in me while I sang, “You’re
never fully dressed without a smile!” and his
crooked mouth turned up with the same grin
my Grandma saw slide to the side and right up
her skirt, that still stuck to the skin on his face
with the elasticity that had forsaken him elsewhere.
And when we got home Mom cried and swore she
was never going back while my brother and
I — scent of wasted breath still soaking our clothes —
giggled, and whispered, “God damn right!”
Brigit Young is a poet and novelist born and raised in Michigan. She's lived in various parts of NYC for the past twelve years and now calls Brooklyn home. Her debut middle grade novel, WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, is forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan in August, 2018. Her poetry and short fiction can be found in venues that include 2 River View, Word Riot, Snapdragon, The Common, Gargoyle Magazine, Drunken Boat Magazine and The Ocotillo Review.