“Penance” by Terri Kent-Enborg

26 April 2019 on Poetry   Tags:

In autumn, a bamboo pole sceptered
in his fists, Dad thwacked walnuts

from the sleepy domes of trees and
my sister and me, five and nine, gathered

the fallen in our upturned shirts. Us, little
saviors, with our audacious hands, our

fingernails purpled with hull, we pried
each shell, extracted the pristine curves

of meat and never, not once, thought of how
they looked like tiny brains.

Us, not yet with words like
tumor, like
surgeon, like
cran-i-o-to-my, like:

our mother, three decades later, unresponsive
in the ICU as we clap our hands an inch from

her face yelling “Wake Up!” and our dad,
empty fisted, pounds the bedside table, bargains

with his impotent God. I tell you:

If we had a clue where to find it, my sister and me,
we’d drag that bamboo pole to the orchard, stomp it

into pulp, lay it at the roots of the sleepiest tree, beg 
forgiveness. We’d bite off our greedy, scrubbed-clean 

nails, toss them in a mound, burn them, offer them.


Terri's work has been published in Literary Mama, Adoption Today Magazine, The Sacramento News and Review, Motherverse Journal of Contemporary Motherhood, and Tiny Lights Journal of Personal Narrative. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in fiction and is nearing completion of her first novel. Her website can be reached at this link: www.terrikentenborg.com

Michaela Savell is a Salem-based mixed media artist. She is drawn to faces and architecture because of how they challenge her to capture complex emotions in simple brush strokes. Even in the crevices of an alley or a small streak of light around a corner, Michaela sees beauty. You can find more of Michaela's work on her website.

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