Memory in the Shape Of a Beginning
My uncle carves a notch into the stock
to show me how men keep count
of things they kill. This time,
it was a dove, the blur on a still
branch. For whatever reason,
I aimed & held my breath.
My uncle has since gone into one
moment, along with the sun-
light’s dispersion from a gray wing,
the bird’s liquid neck, & those long,
broken rows of wet dirt that once
appeared perfect to me, even though
I knew, deep down, they never were.
Nothing at All
I found you curled in a ball, cluttered with
those boys who first made their mothers bleed,
& you would rise, instead, all of your might
tucked under an arm no longer gimp, tearing
through to hide a football the size of another
boy’s head, & how the ball held, how it never
spun away then in the grass & you could run,
really run, & covering ground, claiming the field
with silence, there were no pile of fists punching
their way down to you, no voice growing smaller
in the collective mind, threatening to leave this
place, it was just us, enraged, & then the field,
all of it behind you now, & how you knew this
was coming, our becoming nothing at all.
Jon Pineda’s new collection Little Anodynes, published in March 2015, was selected by Nikky Finney for the Palmetto Poetry Series. His other poetry collections include The Translator’s Diary, winner of the Green Rose Prize, and Birthmark, winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition. He lives in Virginia and teaches at the University of Mary Washington.