Poem of the Week | November 30, 2015

This week we offer a new poem by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett. Flynn-Goodlett migrated to the Bay Area after completion of her MFA at The New School. She was awarded the Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry upon graduation from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including Meridian, Prism Review, Carve, ZYZZYVA, and The Greensboro Review. Her chapbook, Congress of Mud, was recently published by Finishing Line Press.
Author’s note:

The seed of this poem was an incandescent memory of climbing out of a dark lake onto a dock lined in flares—the tension between the adult celebration and the child’s, to whom the holiday was about sparklers, berry-studded cakes, and deafening explosions. I’ve never thought of childhood as an idyll, but as a corral flanked by whispers; the adult darkness is forever seeping in, all the more menacing for being unspoken.


Indian Lake


When geese sliced arrowhead formations
across the clouds and algae-addled waters
stilled, glowed red with the flares lining
the yard, we chattered teeth on the dock,


held a sparkler in each hand. You drowned
in a hospital across town, leaving cupboards
of oatmeal and domestic beer, a plumbing
business for three of your sons. It was after


the war you flew in, where you learned slow
combustion, became a bomb whose blast
radius grew to engulf eight others, huddled
and holding doors against you. I knew only


your hand mussing my hair, learned you
from how you seared them, like shadows
on Hiroshima’s walls. Now, they gather—
white leather couches, a fire in the grate.


They talk over each other to quiet you,
don’t see you refilling, sneaking outside
for a cigarette. My mother gags to taste you
at the bottom of her glass. Each summer,


when the lake is dredged, we pull on boots
and explore it like the surface of the moon.
My sister searches for a wedding band tugged
off her hand skiing, kicks ragged weeds.


But I am looking for you, know you’re out
here, circling the dock, like geese who fly
the same sharp formations season after
season, bound by memory’s tensile strength.