Two Psalms by Clay Matthews


How to navigate the sitcomming of the self,
social media, my daughter wearing scrunchies
as bracelets to follow the latest fad on Instagram.
I tell her: be yourself, and in herself she cries
to be nine and facing the inevitable beauty
of other girls and a father with cancer.
Selah. I sometimes want to dig a pit
in the backyard deep enough to pile
all of our worries, pour kerosene over them,
light them with a match, and let the flames
carry them up to you. Do you tire of these
burdens, Lord? Do they weigh so heavily on me
if I can envision them as balloons
held by long strands in my daughter’s hands
like chamomile, or clover she weaves
into bracelets. Let go, the thunder commands.
Boom, your voice, balm as quiet and heavy
as an elephant sitting on my heart, weeping
that she has no fingers to pull the petals
from a flower and contemplate
whether you love her or not.


Cuddle this sad ball of cells, Lord,
I’m splitting into too many pieces.
Sunday and there’s such a short line
between now and the mother of all
surgeries. As the crow flies.
Outside they call and a pair of shoes
hangs from the power lines.
The pastor today will preach
about feelings and I will hold a glass
of grape juice and tremble. The blood
as metaphor, the blood they take
and test, the cell counts, the science
of the body as this foreign land
I return to each morning. In this land
do they speak your name, Lord?
Coffee and some window panes broken
in the corners. There’s just never any way
to see things as they are,
but if I could feel….

Clay Matthews has published poetry in journals such as the Southern Review, diodeKenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. His most recent book, Shorewas published by Cooper Dillon Books. His other books are Superfecta (Ghost Road Press), RUNOFF (BlazeVox), and Pretty, Rooster (Cooper Dillon). He currently lives in Elizabethtown, KY and teaches at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College.

Image: “Misplaced, 9/14/2019” by Sarah Sampson

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