Andrew Collard


Andrew Collard lives in Kalamazoo, MI, where he attends grad school and teaches. His recent poems are forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Ploughshares, and Crab Orchard Review, among other journals.


Portrait With Elegy And Iodine

Your family tree is a dozen weeks-old pizza boxes
stacked in the corner of the kitchen, each filled
with something vaguely hateful: a whited-out
page from Gideon’s Bible, or the fear of what’s not
on the local news. You think if you could see
your blood run, it might not tell you
where it’s headed. How can a river love
its mouth, still choked by passing ships?
How can a child shade a sketched figure
without shaking? Down the church hallway
you chased the boy who stole your drawings
but slipped, your head opened on the carpet.
Someone else’s mother cradled you,
dabbing softly at the wound until
the ambulance came, whispering a hymn
beneath your cries. The scar left is a string
of frozen days you spent playing
pick up basketball at the park, huffing
back and forth with hands bunched like the kid
you watched the other kids beat on one recess,
and didn’t speak a word of after. Even then you knew
you’d get hit next. Even then you couldn’t
take a swing. When you called out, no one came.
You know, now, as you step by hanged portraits,
landscapes, infinite Madonnas, barely looking,
how the blood owns every brush stroke,
fooling out belief through endless repetitions
and utility. A careful palette leads the eye
to close, so pray. Say Lord, cut me open:
replace my tongue with dahlias
and my teeth with maps
. When the blood
gives chase, say let it: replace my knees
with something sturdier, my hands with down.
Lord, don’t ever let the ones who love me know.