Iowa Writes

JOSH BALD
Twelve and Mortal


When the Antarctic Archaeological Excavation Commission

finally drills far enough to find our alien forebears,

still slumped in the seats of their stalled craft, and extract

the DNA to prove it, I will understand why I cannot

understand my distant grandparents: why they cover their

furniture and stash scraps in the first available drawer.

They move with such deliberation that I have to look away

when they butter or cut or baste. The table was set hours

ago, and over the clinking utensils in steaming pots,

the world news says good evening, here is the bomb report.

When the Antarctic Archaeological Excavation Commission

finally drills far enough to find our alien forebears,

still slumped in the seats of their stalled craft, and extract

the DNA to prove it, I will understand why I cannot

understand my distant grandparents: why they cover their

furniture and stash scraps in the first available drawer.

They move with such deliberation that I have to look away

when they butter or cut or baste. The table was set hours

ago, and over the clinking utensils in steaming pots,

the world news says good evening, here is the bomb report.


I may have to survive on flat soda and mixed nuts.

I may learn the piano again and become the St. Alphonsus

model of youthful piety by day. One day I will do things

for them out of familial kindness and not the welling impatience,

as familiar as the compulsion to snap icicles from gutters,

standing underneath as they shatter around me. This is, dangerously,

a well-received ploy among pre-teen boys, who seem to say,

go ahead, cut me, let's find how blood dies.

The war is over and no one smiles; the parade for severed

limbs was postponed due to lack of able drivers

and stale candy. At the holiday mass said by the bishop,

I wear my starched shirt not made by a quivering child

the swoosh factories have not yet landed. When they do,

holy white smoke will proclaim the new world order,

and we will give thanks at my grandparents' antique feast.

Do they set out these sunflower seeds when I am away,

speeding through school zones? Is my inheritance in this liquor cabinet?

I will wear a suit for when come the answers.

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JOSH BALD

Josh Bald is an Iowa native, Iowa alum, and currently co-director of a small public charter school in Southern Oregon. Josh takes fantasy football seriously.

This page was first displayed
on April 14, 2010

Find us on Facebook