“Use Your Words” by Meredith Mason

Meredith Mason


My son looks up from drawing plants with teeth,
says, “You’re long-gone when we’re at Dad’s,” then tries
to find a better green. I think I’ll weep,
or maybe raise my hand and give him five.
He’s used his words. I want to hand him back 
some other words, remind him that he’s fine,
but nights when he’s not here I jolt awake;
the other side of his long-gone is mine.
I burrow underneath my blanket pile,
remind myself he’s safe, we’re fine, and … and …
the research shows, blah, blah, that kids can thrive …
Outside the maples wave their empty hands.
My son sleeps on the river’s other side.
I cannot swim across. It’s cold, and wide.

from Rattle #82, Winter 2023
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Meredith Mason: “I love the way that sound and meaning are in conversation with each other in the making of a poem, how they inform and guide each other. The process of weaving something whole and surprising from the varied sounds and symbols that make it feels like a chance to become more whole myself, feels like a kind of relief I crave. It’s a little like if you had a terrible itch in your duodenum, or right under your left kneecap, and poetry was the only thing that could relieve it, you would have to write poems, and read poems.”

Rattle Logo