Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award and Serving, runner up, Yellow Chair Review Chapbook Award. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Verse Daily, Rattle, World Literature Today, The NY Times, and on her website: www.karigunterseymourpoet.com. A ninth generation Appalachian, she is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) (www.womenofappalachia.com) and editor of the WOAP anthology series, Women Speak. She is a recipient of a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship and Poet Laureate of Ohio. https://sheilanagigblog.com/sheila-na-gig-editions-quick-shopping/kari-gunter-seymour/
Without warning, my son’s ex sends me
a text about a 4-inch-long scratch
on my toddler grandson’s arm, one that,
swear to God, he already had when
he arrived for our last visit.
I know she is trying to set up my son,
document false evidence so he will lose
privileges or the right to see his fragile boy,
who runs on all fours, hides in the dog’s crate
the minute anyone sets foot inside the house.
When I think of her, this young woman,
obviously lonely, who wanted to get married—
a sharp-edged prickle inside my head
She started sleeping with crystals,
my son says, scratching his head—
I mean actual rocks in our bed,
charming one minute,
word you to your knees the next.
On nights I drink too much wine
I blame myself—my A-line skirts,
Weight-Watchers diets, my son
growing up single-mommed
inside small-town America,
lured off course by a spritz
of patchouli, a flash of black lace.
Tonight I weep for all I cannot fix,
wish for a newfangled deity to implore,
a let’s make a deal beyond altar and incense,
a clearing house for the backlog of Karma.
I drape a makeshift veil over my head,
one hand raised in supplication,
the other shielding my heart.