Ode to Kingsessing
Shevaun Brannigan
No one I love has died
who should not have.
No one has tied their body
to a rope, and, weighted
by their shoes and the load
they carry, jumped
from a branch so their neck snaps
like a fresh bean being shelled.

Tonight, a woman screamed help me
from the street after a man
stole her purse. Doors opened
all down the street like a mass
cuckoo clock. You and I
walked to the waiting cab and said,
it could have been us
but then again, we were together
Her wails followed behind us
like a shadow that might be a man.

I miss a language where I could say
what I meant. Where 
can you leave the light on
means I need to see your breaths.

Here in Philadelphia, 
the row houses have each other
to lean on. Gutting one,
the others shake.
Beyond the bricks and beams,
we sleep with backs conjoined.

You dream we fight over onions. 
In the morning, you will tell me this,
gesturing the peel, and I will remember
my dream, where zinnias bloomed
from your hand and you plucked dozens
of them to give me, until the floor
was covered in pinks and oranges,
the sunrise we slept through.
Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as The Jimenez-Porter Writers' House at The University of Maryland. She has had poems appear in such journals as Best New Poets 2012, Lumina, Rhino, Court Green, and Free State Review. She is the first place recipient of the 2015 Jan-ai Scholarship through the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway. Her favorite poetry gig is the workshop she leads at her local Domestic Violence Shelter, and her work can be found at shevaunbrannigan.wordpress.com.


more by Shevaun Brannigan:
Thin Walls
Engagement