In First Person

poetry by Suzanne Grove

In First Person 

Tell me about the tornadoes,

about the marsh wet with saline 

and Saltgrass and the heat we folded 

into, an air thick enough to feel like 

moving through the swarm, through people—

to feel like being loved. 

 

Tell me about the muskrat asking

if we were playing god when you grabbed

your shotgun, about your torso’s heat sucking

swamp-like at my back, scolded with sun. 

I was ready to be undone and undone again

against the soft arc and crook of your spine.

 

Tell me about my mother’s house where she

fed you blue crab, kept your favorite liquor

in the cabinet that fed my father’s disease.

Where we hid away in the cool of the root 

cellar, our syntax confused among spoonfuls of

jam and apples caught up in cellular respiration.

 

Tell me about how I later had to stay there, 

in bed, and tell me about how you came often 

and often and often and then not at all. 

Blame fear, blame desolation. Blame the fact

that only men are permitted to disappear into the

wide spaces, to disappear for freedom.

 

Tell me about the honeymoon, the fig-tree

afternoons and hot stammer of our bodies and

tell me again about how hard it is to hold a hand that shakes. 

 

Forgive me. The medicine drip makes it hard to

remember. Tell me a story. Tell me my story. 

Tell it to me in first person. 

Seventeen

poetry by Suzanne Grove

Seventeen

In the fabric: a glut of bowling alley smoke and fryer grease, 

t-shirts washed to nothing and your dad’s New Amsterdam gin. 

 

The crawling hot, wet on the windshield of your brother’s Mercury sedan,

his Florida-legal windows never revealed the migratory patterns of our hands.  

 

Everywhere—everywhere new tastes for the body, and for our bodies. 

Helium yowl of dope and grass blades slicing our bare ankles 

and my boyfriend’s inner thigh like an organ. 

 

We sang no songs, only the public radio station playing smooth jazz, 

10 PM Sunday and slurp of Svedka in the backseat, 

faces sun-tired and perfect. 

 

What did we have to remember? 

 

Stay safe and stay safe and—years later, we were much smarter, 

yet Julie still disappeared on her dawn jog and Ron had one Vicodin, 

one, two, seven Vicodin and had to be incubated in the ICU.

 

And my disassociation came after a Rush Week in which I did not 

actively participate. One touch, two touch, no and no and no, no, no 

until it became a manic prayer. 

 

What did we have to remember? 

 

Buckle your seatbelt. 

Brush your teeth before you kiss your mother and father goodnight.

Suzanne Grove Writer Headshot 1.jpeg

Suzanne Grove

Suzanne Grove is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and received the J. Stanton Carson Grant for Excellence in Writing while studying at Robert Morris University. She currently serves as the short fiction editor for CRAFT literary magazine, and she finds joy in helping other writers to share their stories with the world. Her poetry and fiction appear or are forthcoming in The Adirondack Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Penn Review, Porter House Review,  Raleigh Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. She received honorable mention in Farrar, Straus, & Giroux's June 2019 contest for her short fiction piece "Shift Work.” Find her online at SuzanneGrove.com