by Ashley M. Jones
Two thousand three hundred miles away from home
and I’m watching the tiny camera attached to the back of my parents’ house.
Brother dragging the black trash bin to the curb, sister’s hum
to the backdoor with her key and bag in hand. The breaths of our quiet house.
I’ve been thinking, lately, about time, how it will come
for me and my family, will steal these bones, the flesh that guards like a house.
I’ve been thinking about getting older, the way it seems like some
years pass quick as a snap, my life between two fingers. My body an aging house—
the cracks and creaks down the halls. How did I become
so old that I can start to see the end of this horizon, my mind a house
full of impending pain. Imminent pain. My father’s face a tomb
of tears at his mother’s grave. My mother’s sighs through the Greensboro house
now emptied of my grandmother’s body. The way a headstone smiles, come
now, did you think you’d really live forever? On the home security camera, my house
looks indestructible. The cars unmoving, as if everyone has come
home to stay. Looking at them walk in and out of the house,
my parents and my siblings look something like strangers. How the camera’s dumb
eye can’t capture memory, just pixels and pigments—it can’t keep my house
from becoming a pile of wood and shingled crumb–
can’t keep those living in it from dissolving into darkness, dirt, the big house
I imagine as heaven. Maybe, then, my angel-parents wave me home
from their golden porch. They say: Ashley, we’ve been waiting—come on in the house.
Ashley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival. Her website is www.ashleymichellejones.wordpress.com.