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“One Thing I Have Learned”

Book Excerpt: Edge of the Echo

One Thing I Have Learned

               In country light we walk back slow / — where we once lived and
                loved. — Al Young

When you wake and the dream still sings,
       when fireside strokes warmth into your bones,
when vapor licks the river, kisses your cheek with mist,
       when wren and bluebird dwell in the curve of hickory
and stars pulse the moon’s heartbeat —
       know you are in my marrow, in my soul.

No stranger to loss,
        shadows of the Fall still sizzle
the gloom, just out of sight.
        Truth thirsts for happiness, gnaws
the edge of grief until you surrender —
                                                          let memory drift

to that kitchen table where mama and aunts weave gossip,
             and love tastes like fried chicken, perfumed hugs,
or like the first tug of your son’s fingers,
             or even following dad’s faltering steps
across ammonia-scented rooms.

Knowing this will hurt
                              but risking it anyway.

More than a muscle, the heart
                                                    breathes, leaving nothing behind.

“One Thing I Have Learned”

Copyright © 2021 by KB Ballentine. All rights reserved. KB Ballentine’s seventh collection, Edge of the Echo, launched in May 2021 with Iris Press. Earlier books include The Light Tears Loose; Almost Everything, Almost Nothing; and Gathering Stones. Her work also appears in anthologies including Pandemic Evolution (2021). She lives in Chattanooga.

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