Poems by Forrest Hamer
an abnormal desire for unusual foods
I'd noticed the flowers first, wondered if
the orange I saw in the pink of them was
actual or an idea of mine,
something descriptive which had become real.
I still don't know, but in his office
that morning we talked about how soil tastes.
The dirt nearest my grandmother's hollyhocks was
the best. Shades of black smelled of stories
I hadn't yet heard that would linger
in my nose through night - these would be places
to grow things, grow: lay inside some seed then each day
resurrect the forming curl and green of them.
Stories change things, even the dead things laid there.
So when my grandmother was buried,
and there could be no digging and redigging,
I imagined the darkness was changing her
night by night: her face sank while hairs raised themselves
like fur, her nails grew long and rounded, and
each dim wrinkle dried into another.
By the eightieth night, I noticed
that her skin had worn itself away, and how
her pink dress loosely framed her shape of bones.
And there were stories in the soil
about where she's gone and the people I knew
only by name that she'd seen again. She
was learning other stories to tell me,
and she whispered them in my deepening sleep.
I had forgot the story about the night
the soil erased her and she was anything
but brightness in grains. But I was
sitting in his office one morning
complaining of no dreams, and the idea
of orange made those flowers smell dank,
and I became alive, craving.
From CALL AND RESPONSE (Farmington, 1995)