How else would you know that I’m allergic
to bees, their fluttering stings?
Or how, that summer, I moved across the grass
barefoot to hang the laundry
when I stepped on one
as it hovered above the brightness of a dandelion.
See, we are all distracted by beauty.
But how much do you need to know
before you really know someone?
You could tell them they’re beautiful
in a dark kitchen after too many glasses of wine.
Or you could say nothing at all.
There’s a living room in Chicago
where he reached for my hand and we started slow dancing
while his family finished their breakfast.
Someone might ask: Where are you going?
There’s a shopping list on the sidewalk
that fell from someone’s pocket
with items crossed out—screwdriver, mustard, pantyhose.
It made me think about other people’s lives,
those things we have in common: how grief stuns us
like the bay window a bird strikes.
There was a day my mother walked me to the bus stop.
She knelt down in the road and urged me on.
Wouldn’t you say we’ve all lost things
we thought we couldn’t live without?
Say we’ll share a cigarette in the snow
when we get off the train.
Already I can see your dog’s paws slip on the ice
as she runs to your calling,
as she runs to what she recognizes as human.
Darkness chases the children down the street.
I will not forget the way your face looked, safe, in the rain.
We were shivering from the warmth we saw inside other kitchens.
The last time I saw your mother alive she bought me a pint of beer.
We laughed when the band played “California Dreaming” in the pub in Galway.
A taxicab left one of us alone on the sidewalk in the dark.
My father stood in the kitchen with his briefcase, tie loose like the corners of his mouth.
What have I done with my life?
My mother at the stove, her cigarette quietly burning.
Downstairs, football scholarships are tucked away in his old army chest.
The most dangerous thing I’ve ever done was not tell someone
I loved them.
It is as hard as it seems.
Bonnie Minick’s first chapbook Like the One Streetlight in a Small Town encloses poems that ask the reader to pursue the answer to the question, “What can be saved?” Minick leads the reader into poems of small towns, “the bare backs of dirt roads/ the moon hanging like a loose button in the sky”, towns that are poems of memory, love, and grief. This is what poetry is to Minick. Just as she poses questions in her poems, she does not hesitate to try to answer them. In the poem, “For the Lost” she tells us, “The most dangerous thing I’ve ever done was not tell someone I loved them. / It is as hard as it seems.” It is with this definitive voice that she takes on the subjects of her poems.
Minick’s poems have been published in a variety of literary journals, including Poetry International, Chachalaca Poetry Review, miller’s pond, and Daedalus. Minick completed her MFA in Poetry at Western Michigan University. She currently teaches English at Voorhees High School. In addition to teaching and writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son. She also devotes her free time to defending endangered wildlife.