Megan Gannon has two poems published in spring issue of Willow Springs
World Poetry Day, as declared by UNESCO in 1999, is being celebrated today, March 21. The aim is to recognize the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.
Ripon College Associate Professor of English Megan Gannon is a frequently published poet. Most recently, she has two poems in the Winter 2021 issue of Willow Springs: “Dispatch from Simultaneous Swim Lessons” and “Dispatch Four Days After the Funeral.”
Dispatch from Simultaneous Swim Lessons
On Tuesdays the baby licks the balcony viewing window
as his brother and sister swim in side by side lanes.
His sister is deep within herself, adjusting goggles
over eyes that cannot see us a story above her head.
Her dive is all toes, her stroke all elbows that softly
dent the water. As she sends the bone-white reed
of her body dutifully down the length of the pool,
her hair pulses like a jellyfish bell behind her.
When she hauls herself free, shivering, the waterlogged
cloth sags, and soon she’ll ask for a new suit with more
padding to hide what’s budding. She has completed
one lap, one more chore crossed off between her
and the next day’s list of to-dos. One lane over,
the baby’s brother throws his goggles into the deep end
so he’ll have to jump in to retrieve them before his teacher
says it’s time. His dive is a careening comet screaming
cowabunga, his feet a ceaseless motor that churns
his joy so high it rains down on every lane. His wet curls hang
clumped as uncarded wool, dripping chlorine
he blinks and licks away as he waves and mouths words
over his teacher’s talking. I waggle the baby’s hand
back at him and think how, even from this height,
and through such clear elements, I cannot discern
who I’m more frightened for: the baby’s sister and brother
each marked as prey by their bodies — her, by her
imagined weakness, him, by his supposed strength.
And indeed her body is thin and breakable and flowering.
And indeed his body is brown and glossy with the energy
of ten suns. And the baby is a pale reflection floating
above them, swimming his arms through unresisting air.
Dispatch Four Days After the Funeral
I might as well mourn the man-boy in twenty-
year-old pictures who was only mine for a few months
(if at all) as much as the man he became far away
in the mean time — same tanned, Clark Kent face,
same warm-throated laugh, same hundred things
my young heart encased in gooey honey that hardened
to something semi-precious — quick flickers of images
stilled in a golden-remembered glow. But then
he became someone else’s husband, father to two
seemingly-bored kids I watched throwing wake boards
into his sister’s pool the day before his funeral.
The way I used to search crowds for his flip-flopped
swagger, I now watch hungrily as his son and daughter
demonstrate they might be okay someday.
Truly, I gave him up a long time ago — it feels
like stealing to try to remember what I almost loved —
now that my love for another resides in my chest
like a thirst or caught breath, a full emptiness I press
every night against this warm body filled with another
life’s echoes. Now that half of my grief is for the wife
who loved twenty times longer and legally,
now that she’ll have to weather the couples-get-togethers
and suspicions of female friends, and all with no warning.
I want to send her something from my years
as a single mother, the moment maybe
I’d finally carved away at my life, shedding the soft,
water-logged griefs, to whittle myself and my child
into a shape I’d always wanted — something spare
and hard in our matter-of-fact unbending. It will be
who-knows-how-many days until she can find
that heartwood — a number that waits in her
future the way this death waited in numbered days
past the days I knew him. But no, I don’t believe
our endings wait like a stopped clock, that the boy
who slammed his truck into a man on his morning run
had that act encoded in him since birth any more
than the woman who ran up and watched the light
leave those eyes had that moment waiting to define her —
but it does. His death came at her from both sides
of time and stilled her in that moment as she wrapped
a t-shirt around his head, the same way I hover the day
years ago he gouged himself on a broken branch and I helped
hold a t-shirt to his skull to stanch the flow. I don’t
believe one moment made the other, but they call
to each other across the distance of our breath:
the moment I first wondered, his blood on my hands,
if I’d ever want to call him mine, calling to the moment
he became no one’s, staining a stranger’s hands.