December 11, 2014

Marianne Kunkel

I GUESS

Right after my parents’ divorce,
people blurted the single question
they’d been dying to ask for years.
How’d they last a day?

Great sex, I was tempted to respond,
as if the thought of my sour mother
fondling my father’s new rebellion,
a ponytail, wasn’t joke enough.

I guess long ago they made
each other happy. What a sad
thing to have to guess. Once my mother
spoke of a nightmare in which
she walked to our front door;

in pitch dark, she twisted the knob
and a hand from outside twisted back.
I imagine if I shined a flashlight
on that intruder’s face, I’d see
my ever-frustrated father.

Proximity without loving
was their creed, him plucking
a guitar in a room off the kitchen,
her clicking a noisy blender on,

and so I couldn’t believe it when my father said
Enough after all those nights
he laid in their waterbed, flirting
with escape but drifting nowhere.

from Rattle #44, Summer 2014

__________

Marianne Kunkel: “My high school English teacher dropped a Marianne Moore poem on my desk after class one day. At the time I liked reading poetry, but it took realizing I shared a name with a famous poet for me to see myself in it. I started writing.” (website)

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December 27, 2010

Marianne Kunkel

A SLOTH FIRST HEARS ITS NAME

But why should it care? It munches
a cecropia leaf. It probes the air
with its blunt snout, detecting
a waft of sour coconut. It lumbers to a branch,
grabs hold with its claws, drops,
dangling upside down like a knapsack.
It doesn’t know to feel ashamed
that its name means lazy and sinful.
Like my little sister
after her abortion, when our father
changed her name from Molly to Molly.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010

_________

Marianne Kunkel: “I wrote my first form of poetry at age four, when I composed the music and lyrics to a song called ‘Queen with the Loose Tooth.’ I remember arranging kitchen chairs in a circle and prancing from seat cushion to seat cushion, belting my song. I’m no longer a queen, and have all my adult teeth, but I still can’t get past the thrill of poetry. And dancing on kitchen chairs.” (website)

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