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A Pair of Poems About Relics

Vera Jewel
by Michelle McMillan-Holifield 

My grandmother ruffles through a box of material
that smells of mothballs. 4X4 squares
of old curtains, denims, dresses, ties, scarves.
Anything that could be cut to make quilts
packs so tightly in a yellowed box
the color on the fabric has no room to fade.
She searches for a newspaper article.
I’ve been through the box twice. It is not there.
She is so sure, so serene
as if by memory alone she can will it there.

Her fingers lull through the fabric
loosening the earth of her past.
Each square, a sermon, a kiss, a new dish.
Hands still immersed, she recites the article.
It is of my father’s early promotion in the Army.
I know how she must have studied it, line by line,
until the words became his uniform,
his boots, his medals, his tags.

She does not find it but smiles. She offers me
the fabric to make quilts, pillowcases,
anything that can be sewn into a memory.
I take it, though I have already memorized her:
the smell of mothballs on her hands,
the rows of vegetables she nurtured
wearing the flowered dress that lies in pieces in the box.
I see her in my sleep. Words on a page.
I recite her.

Michelle McMillan-Holifield studied poetry and creative writing at Delta State University in the Mississippi Delta, where she received her B.A. in English. Her poetry has been published in several journals, including PMS poemmemoirstory and Lullwater Review. This poem was previously published in Confidante. Read her poem Chestnut Falls, published earlier this month, here

 

A Faith, Rotting
by Megan Mealor

She wore the kind of cross necklace
you would find in a bargain box,
the holy rejects of sacrilegious salesgirls,
their pearls undulating, effulgent.
She didn’t care that the gold shed
itself into a bastard green, branded
and belligerent against her pale
butterfly of a throat. To her, there
was a beautiful irony in the decay
of something so consecrated by
sadness. To her, there was no
religion without the ululation of
a mother’s lamentation, rotting
into romance, idolatry in the
immaculate inferiority: a necklace
losing sight of heaven faster than
she did the night God weighed
her losses, wrote them into being.

Megan Mealor is a native of Jacksonville, Florida. Her poems and short stories have been published in Elan, Digital Americana, 4 and 20 Poetry, The Rathalla Review, Obsessed With Pipework, Midnight Circus, Black Heart Magazine and Hello Horror. She is currently working toward a Master’s degree in English Education at the University of North Florida, while balancing new mommyhood and writing a chapbook. Read her poem Little Punk, published earlier this month, here

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