Writers Reading: Mike Reynolds

Rudbeckia hirta

When you were a kid,
your mom got sick
and your dad started drinking,
again.
Every night,
he’d make sure your mother was
warm,
comfortable,
and then he’d get shitfaced.

He didn’t start hitting you ‘til that Spring,
when the wild flowers would sprout
along the edge of the neighbors’ cow pasture.

You were twelve then
and it was
your job to keep the yard looking
trim, neat,
respectable.

Your mother always loved wild flowers
and she knew the names of them too
though,
you never bothered to learn them.

So when you’d cut the grass,
sweaty,
bruised,
you made sure
to cut just short
of your mother’s favorite wildflowers.

You never told her about this
and she never asked,
but both of you knew what those flowers meant.

 They meant
the smell of butter melting
on Sunday mornings.
They meant
the sound of her voice,
reading you Tom Sawyer,
or singing to you
In Dublin’s fair city…”
They meant
your mother
muttering in a tone of exasperated love,
“My boy, my boy…”

Then your dad would get home
and see those flowers;
weeds,
he’d call ‘em.
Then he’d hit you
reeking of Swisher Sweets,
Evan Williams,
and 10W-30.
He’d hit you.
Again and again.
But you wouldn’t cry,
wouldn’t blink,
knowing
the freedom of wild things,
and their quiet black eyes.

###

mike reynoldsMike Reynolds is 25 years old, and has been writing poetry since he was 12. He was born and raised in Granville County, North Carolina, and joined the U.S. Army when he was 20. He served in Afghanistan from 2011-2012 as a combat medic with the 25th Infantry Division. He is currently studying Creative Writing at Longwood University. Mike loves acoustic guitars (that he really can’t afford), vinyl records, and Irish whiskey.