Two Poems by Jordan Redmond
My Summer Sentences
He comes when the world is supposed to be quiet,
when we want to be the loudest.
I wait outside with the dogs and the tiny, flying bugs,
listening for the rocks to move in the driveway.
I can’t tell right now but I know the truck is green,
and I know that’s him in the humming heat.
His lights are off and Faith Hill is just a mumble
as he glides up and sticks to me like mist in the fog.
I can smell him in the air now, and the bee
never wants to leave the garden.
Where to and I don’t know,
so he takes me where he wants,
exactly where I want to go.
On backroads, he says fuck the poh-leece,
finds a hiding place worthy of wannabe adults
up to no good.
The moonlight is too bright.
We can see each other fumble with our buttons,
tug on the pant legs jammed at our heels,
wince because I’m on his throwing arm
and Ow, you’re on my hair.
Then his eyes are closed and his tongue,
soft as a lab’s, tastes like spearmint and Grizzly.
His rough hands work over my fledgling pyres,
and I become his favorite Zippo–
opened and closed with the friction of his jeans.
He turns me over in his fingers like a nervous habit.
I become smudged all over.
He wipes me down with his white V-neck after.
I wish I could stay in his front pocket,
or maybe fall between the seats, or get lost on the floorboard.
He puts my panties in his dash with his wallet,
then turns the engine over without singing me another song.
He rips through my nights like this.
I assume romance isn’t dead
and buy him some pancakes.
Can’t Say Daddy
You taught me to crawl with a trail of Nilla Wafer cookies. You put me on the floor in the living room, facedown and immobile. Like an ant, I followed them back to you.
You taught me how to write in print at the breakfast bar, then you taught me how to write in cursive: my name, your name. I copied lines from the interviews in your vintage Playboys next, and you let me put on Die Hard, Desperado, and Beauty and the Beast for background noise.
You taught me to read Hot Dog in your lap from your noisy, red recliner. “Not gonna help you. Sound it out. Read!” I sang out to you every night in the haze of your Marlboro Lights.
You taught me how to ride a bike on the gravel road behind the house. “Training wheels are for babies and kids who take their feet off the pedals are pussies. I ain’t raisin’ no pussy.”
You taught me to sit still while you got the twine tied around the petals and my glittery pink shoes—the white and pink Ariel ones that you bought me for school. “Keep pedalin’ and you won’t fall,” you said to my shoes.
You taught me that tiny rocks and gravel pressed into flesh and blood looked cool, meant I was tough. You slapped my knee and smiled when you said, “Rub some dirt on it.”
You taught me how to hunt, how to work through the pain of ripping a squirrel’s back flesh from the joint of the tail. Sometimes I was the one jerking on the skin. Sometimes I was the one holding the soft head steady.
You taught me to cook like a single man: burnt steak with pepper, Vienna Sausages from the can, fried bologna with white bread and mayo.You taught me the sweet manipulation of language in your dry humor, curse words, and sarcasm.
You taught me how to drink whiskey when I came downstairs during your poker game. You put me in your lap and showed me your cards. Your friends wanted me gone but you put your hand on my belly and bobbed your knee. You let me hold your cup all night, told me, “Swallow fast and don’t look like you’re in pain.”
You taught me about the desire to run–yours and mine. “You’re too much like me,” you said, “Mississippi’s not gonna satisfy you.”
Jordan Redmond was born in Starkville and raised in Saltillo, Mississippi, until graduating high school. She went to college at Mississippi State University. Afterwards, she moved to Florida to get her MFA in poetry from University of Central Florida. Since then, she’s lived in Tennessee and Georgia. As of 2018, Redmond has been teaching English in Guangzhou, China, and the rest of her family is still in Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee.