Poem of the Week | October 09, 2017

This week, we are excited to present a new poem by Nicholas Molbert. Molbert’s work has been published in or is forthcoming from Spillway, Fjords Review, American Literary Review, and others. He lives and writes in Central Illinois as an MFA candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

An Epistemology in Retrospect


In the front yard, we half-gainered head first
into the aboveground pool off the roof


of our double-wide. Above us, ravens burdened
the power line into a smile. We didn’t know


birds could be symbols. To us, the ravens
simply stubbled the line’s lip—if we’d sported


facial hair or knew the hassles of shaving to the skin,
we might’ve joked about it, even belly-laughed,


but our ideas of fun, then, were bald milky stomachs
reddened by sunburns and belly flops. Our mother stepped out,


pointed, and said, An unkindness!
Our faces flushed as if we’d been scolded


for another slapping contest, but no. We didn’t know
this name to be the raven’s collective. For all we knew,


they were descendants of birds who boarded the Ark.
Maybe this respite was their first since given the task


of parsing millennia into wet weeks. Perhaps, they flew
together over landscapes we’d never seen—aerial shows


full of freefalls and nosedives, and, when satisfied,
landed to watch my sister and I test the ways wind


bolstered our bodies. We floundered in the weightless
moments between trailer and pool, but, unlike us,


they knew how to plunge through unkind winds.


Author’s Note:

This poem stems from my reflecting on childhood experiences, naïveté, and growing up along Louisiana’s Gulf coast. More specifically, the actions of childhood that reveal real dangers to which, in the moment, my sister and I were oblivious. Lastly, though I’ve been living and writing in an area of the country that isn’t so Catholic, it is hard to shake a Catholic bend from my worldview.