Monday, August 1, 2022

Three Poems, Marcus Myers


When You Discovered Only You Could Ever Really Hear the Sounds in Your Ear
[A letter to my daughter]

“Dad, do you hear 
that crackling sound in my ear?” you asked at four.

“No, other people 
can’t hear the noises made
in our own ears,” I said.


“We don’t share the same head.”

“Wouldn’t it be funny if we were conjen twins
in our momma’s tummy, 
and we shared arms, a chest and some legs?”

“You know it would be funny. And we would hear
many of the same sounds. But even then, we 

likely couldn’t hear any noises together
made by our inner voices.”


“Because we still wouldn’t share the same head. 
Even if our heads were conjoined (I pressed my fists 
together at the knuckles) we could only share one ear. 

Make sense now?”

“No! Everybody stuck together hears the same. If I don’t talk,
my conjen twin she hears the quiet voice inside me.”

I was not overly satisfied with my argument. 
By the next time we talked, I’d looked, 
I’d read about it and learned we as conjoined twins 

would each have flashes of each other’s thoughts 
since our brains would be enmeshed 
by nerves and blood and so, “Yes,” I said, “you’re sort of right,

their inner voices might each sound very much the same because of how close 
their eyes and ears.” In this moment 
our imaginations fused around limitations 

of what’s unlikely but real, and when you pressed your face to mine, we became two
joined—if only briefly—by the words 
you said: “You’re my twin.”

I Imagined Your Birthplace as a Nest 
[A letter to my daughter]

Before you, our baby girl, opened the rooms 
we roomed in then, we made a space for you
within our bright apartment. Windows 

through which the sun drew our breaths
and returned the eggshell enamel of those walls
to pine floors. We lived—closed but porous—

in what seemed a tower above the river, 
within a space not unlike a nest  
hidden above the river swollen with city.

I recall your mother’s balconied eyes, 
blued with the fleck and flame 
the river bends away from the city 

down where we emptied our quiet
stares, after finishing the Spartan
dinners we set. Outside our kitchen window 

a laundry line, which I saw as the chalazae
the material chord of our bond,
holding the yolk of you to our shell,

the proteins of which I imagined we unwove 
during each argument. I did not then imagine 
our angry heads, but maybe 

the way they seethed and shook
above your silent formation,
above our busy hands, 

our palms damp and wrist-flung 
as if to throw the nest we’d made for you
out the side window. Imagined 

or not, this discord decentered us.

Phil Mostly Gets It Right 
[A letter to my daughter]

“They fill you with the faults they had / and add some extra, just for you.” –Philip Larkin 

An old poem by now—“This Be the Verse”? I recited these lines for years 
as a new father after every story, still do, of familiar dysfunction: We can’t help 
making children—we adults—miserable, it reasons, because “fools in old-style 
hats and coats” ignored them, drank and fought, in the same rooms, sulking 
ankle-deep in wrapping paper, calling it wonderful, life, acquiring our taste for happy tears, 
ironed crayon leaf transfers and fresh Hallmarks to color over pain. Handed down 
to you, here’s your great-grandmother’s table, sconced in her dark parlor, so many nights 
she sat, lone-sipping slow-fermented losses—charcuteries, cakes before three courses 
of rumination. So stylish, your Nana’s Nannie, my great grandma. I’ve enfolded
a picture, pasted it in, of her in her signature cat’s eyeglasses, in her atomic whimsey,  
and I wish you could hear her thrumming wit, the story threads she unbraided 
from the beehive hair she piled atop her head—her father, who lived close
enough to school to walk home to eat, to find one day, instead of lunch, his mother
had blown her head off against the mantle—and we’ll have to accept the sting 
of her divergent mind, let’s call it spiritedness. And hopefully you’ll have to accept none 
of the hypomania your Nana and I have inherited. And I hope I haven’t passed
down to you any of my depressiveness, the historic display case of genetic 
melancholy, a storied metal in quiet circulation. Though there’s no shame. I know 
you’d smile a frown to recognize the coin toss of her whimsey, now ours, how this verve 
and glee can land up or down, how quickly it oxidizes into a sad face 
or quicksilver state, flipped and tarnished 
by the pull of moon. 
                     But Larkin’s poem advises we hit the road 
away from family early as possible, refraining from having “any kids yourself”. (Your mother, mostly secure and full of hope, never recited this poem. I’m afraid we wanted to have you 
to love and save the damaged among us—I’m sorry!) Your mom and I will have fucked 
you up, no doubt, in other ways only your kids will know. Even us loving adults 
invariably do their numbers along the way. And I’m starting to see that perhaps kids 
turn and double back to gun it up this one-way street yourselves. Perhaps 
you flatten us, bad hats who’ve worn too many fools for you, friend or teacher
When you pack and move a thousand miles, you leave us 
preserving such messy rooms as this.  

Marcus Myers lives in Kansas City, MO, where he teaches writing to high school and college students and serves as a managing and co-founding editor of Bear Review. Brown-thumbed but trying for green, when not teaching or parenting or celebrating Bear Review contributors, he reads, gardens, walks and backpacks as his preferred modes of inquiry and joy. A semifinalist in the 2019, 92nd Street Y's Discovery Poetry Contest, his poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from The Common, The Cortland Review, The Florida Review, Hunger Mountain, The Laurel Review, Mid-American Review, The National Poetry Review, Poetry South, RHINO, Salt Hill, Sweet, TYPO, Windfall Room and other such journals. 

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