Jem Finch Gets It

1 June 2013

Aunt Alexandra came as early as she could.
Sat staring out the kitchen window over collards
until she roused her teaspoon, swore I swear
under sweetened breath, said nothing
was the same since A. went and made his self
a Spark Note, slinking like a Radley into answers.com.
Yet it is reassuring to think that Jem Finch cried
quietly over a morphine addict, as if in a draft he’d gone
and washed her feet, lifting her shaking shankbone
into his own lap. Jem Finch gets it, that’s for damn sure.

Of course, we can see that in the revised as yet
unwritten rewrite of the Great American Novel
the character of Jem Finch gets it in the neck.
The main street of Maycomb crawls
with the pups of mad Tim Johnson
and Uncle Jack’s right fist is all banged up
and sure as shit Jem Finch has to get it, because God,
having no cause to stay the never before raised hand of A.
can’t be everywhere, staying all those other hands.

Aunt Alexandra came to make arrangements.
Cal pressed and laid out his clothes. The wisdom
we might have doled out in the banter between
child and grown-up is exhausted. That already spoken
is now contained and reduced to molasses;
that which we would speak, that we need to say,
is leaving us. Like geese the words lift in a migrating V,
trailing the likeness of a dirge over felled trees.
The hopes we had for the solace of gentle irony,
of softened perspective, have been dashed,
replaced by craftless hashtags. Can you even place A.
in this scenario? Some skins can’t be, won’t be,
refuse point blank the climbing into.

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