after being named for a woman jazz singer
Around a Philadelphia piano bar sweaty with beads
off glass, towards the end of the last set,
the singer and her voice became what Mother wanted
for a daughter, something in the name,
something her father said about their Irish ancestry.
I became clay to shape for the fire
when she gave me the name Karl in Gaelic,
but not even Mother could bring forth a goddess
in urn with all the wood of a forest.
By the time I budded breasts,
I didn’t want to be a girl who played with dolls,
but the woman astride a horse leading—
if not a nation—her family to what they could be,
more than what they were, more than drinks
around a set of black and white keys.
Three quarters past midnight, it would be easy
to focus on a man who walked away
in a piano bar tune. But it would be me,
a woman descended of Druids, the one stones
are circled for, the one for whom fires are burned.
Kyle Laws’ collections include This Town with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017); So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015); Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014); My Visions Are As Real As Your Movies, Joan of Arc Says to Rudolph Valentino (Dancing Girl Press, 2013); and George Sand’s Haiti (co-winner of Poetry West’s 2012 award). With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. www.kylelaws.com