“Becoming” by Kelly N. Cockerham

Lean on Me (Kelly Cockerham)
“Lean on Me,” oil on canvas, Darwin Leon.

It was dark, a hand
over her mouth, nose.
Thump of feet kicking,
writhing in ribs,
cool cloud of it’s over
and dogs barking across
the bare roads of her arms.

The hand lifted—
not in mercy or regret—
came down again
somewhere else.  Then
a word came, repeating its name
until its meaning flew
into the leaves outside the window.
The word spread its long hair
over her eyes, rolled her lids
down on the busy desk of her body.
The word was a girl walking out a door.
The word was a lock clicking.
The word was a lost room on
the top shelf of a linen closet.

At night, the word
was a red-winged blackbird
in a flock of grackles, a shock
of color that mimicked light.
Beside her, the word traced
her features, spelled her name,
held onto her sleeve and didn’t let go.


Kelly N. Cockerham felt the soft tug of words at an early age and has followed their trail ever since. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars in Vermont, her poems have appeared in The Leveler, Palooka, Soundzine, IthacaLit, and are forthcoming in Pebble Lake Review. She currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two children, but her heart resides on the west coast of Florida.

Read our interview with Kelly here.