It's Time (or Until Then)

by Lizzie Groth

I’ve been afraid of writing the other half of what made me a poet

out of fear that I won’t do it any justice.

 

I did not (learn how to) grieve my great grandpa because a priest convinced me

that I was hearing his voice in my head—

the twice-dead man is absent from his garage that once radiated heat and baseball,

and in my mind he’s playing an eternal game of Hand and Foot— 

talking about Abraham Lincoln and Woodhue perfume.

 

I lost the notes from when he shared his life story with me.

His tale of the three talking dogs was fake, but I believe he was a clairvoyant. I might be.

He told my mom to name me Venus because I was going to be something.

 

My mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

five (five?) five years ago, sixteen years too late.

Now I understand why the tinkling of her keys trigger my fight or flight, even if it’s not her,

why she said “never settle” while hiding her prescribed oxy in my room,

and forgot to pick me up from school, almost crashing into a semi when she did.

 

Odi et amo. I resented her because I had to be strong when she couldn’t.

She’s an earth sign, the rest of us were born in fire.

 

I believe in astrology now, I guess. Sagittarius sun, Libra moon, Aries rising.

My great great great great great great great grandfather, Johann Sebastian Bach, was an Aries.

His artistic spark burns in my hands.

I light my world with words that deny his God

(my great grandpa’s God, my mom’s God, why am I still capitalizing the G?), flickering

among the flames of my inspirations, all fellow archers— Alcott, Dickinson, Austen.

 

They embody my potential. They are what it means to write.

If my great grandpa could see that I was going to write this poem, 

how could I not see that I am worthy of writing it?

It took too many years to understand that my stories were not a hobby,

and that poetry can be found in every breath.

 

If Bach could write symphonies with the fervor of the stars he was born under,

then there is nothing to stop me from picking up a pen,

and proceeding to do something remarkable.

 

It will take time to be consistently original like those inspirations,

when old metaphors are a long balloon that can only be twisted

so many different ways before it begins to wilt—

 

[the man is still in the basement, but he found the stairs;

the last time I saw a blue morning was when I could still fit between them in bed;

an orange haze still reminds me of the sharp scent of cold;

time forgot the laundry piles while I’m still counting stairs;

why am I the only one still screaming?]

 

though I can try to piece together a new patchwork of metaphors,

nametags for my troubles, in the stars and in my memory,

and in everything I can and cannot predict

 

[saltwater taffy vomit and a missing finger;

another non-soulmate is sunrise disguised as sunset;

throw paper towels, scribble IOUs on post-it notes;

little notes in a black and white alphabet of open and filled circles;

extinguish the Easter Vigil fire, “out of darkness, god has called us”.]

 

—until then, I’ll write as Venus.

About the Author

Lizzie Groth is an MFA in Poetry student at Cedar Crest College, and a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University's BFA in Creative Writing program. She describes her writing style as being "confessional and honest, part therapy and part stand up comedy". She thanks the lovely folx at Prometheus Dreaming for taking the time to review her work.