Colleen M. Brown Memorial Prize in Poetry, 2017

The Milk Hours

by John James
 
for J.E.J., 1962-1993
     and C.S.M.J., 2013-
 
 
We lived overlooking the walls overlooking the cemetery. 
The cemetery is where my father remains. We walked 
in the garden for what seemed like an hour but in reality must 
have been days. Cattail, heartseed—these words mean nothing to me. 
The room opens up into white and more white, sun outside 
between steeples. I remember, now, the milk hours, leaning 
over my daughter’s crib, dropping her ten, twelve pounds 
into the limp arms of her mother. The suckling sound as I crashed 
into sleep. My daughter, my father—his son. The wet grass 
dew-speckled above him. His face grows vague and then vaguer. 
From our porch I watch snow fall on bare firs. Why does it 
matter now—what gun, what type. Bluesmoke rises. The chopped
copses glisten. Snowmelt smoothes the stone cuts of his name. 
 
 
 
This poem first appeared in The Louisville Review.