Header image  
    Table of Contents
J.J. McKenna

Come, Take a Turn With Me

Come, take a turn with me
around the old pond
where we fished in the ooze for newts
and froze when we heard
the red-winged blackbird
call o-ka-lay from the cattail
marsh where the pond debouches into swamp.

If I tremble a bit and take your arm
today, it’s because I’m afraid we’ll see
the pond has changed. The silt of years,
buries everything, and the pond slowly slips away.

Nearly lost, now, the flash of light
on skates as we played
fox and geese. The shrieks
of those pursued grow fainter and fainter.

Let’s pause on the bank where we warmed
our hands or sat on rough planks
in the old shack as we raced to lace
our skates to be first to test the ice
and watch for cracks that split
with a tearing snap, lightening quick.

Today, near the end of March, as we pause
where the shack has long since collapsed,
you see something in the grass,
stoop to pick it up and turn the shaft
between finger and thumb—
a carmine feather from the shoulder patch
of a blackbird long since gone.