Kennedy Drive


The night of the warehouse fire, we all

stayed up watching an orange sky twist


flame and shadow, flinching with each

boom as oil drums succumbed.


Maybe we should leave, my mother said.


My father—glowing bright, then dim—

stared out the window. Listen, you can


hear each barrel roll and blow. The way

he talked me through a thunderstorm,


one thousand one, one thousand two—

Five seconds, a mile between the flash


and its slower rumble. Here the gap was

only Kennedy Drive, one street between


our family and the flames—a band of

silence that held the night and the noise


at what seemed like a safe distance.




My Mother Holds Her Great-Granddaughter


In rows of ruffles with a pink medallion pinned

above the hemline, our new Amelia has been placed


across my mother’s lap. First one yawns

and then the other. Both have trouble keeping


focus. My mother nods beneath nine weary

decades, waiting to be guided toward her nap.


Amelia stretches and resumes her newborn sleep.

All the limbs are delicate—in so precarious


a balance that we gasp when one leg shifts

against another and the baby starts to cry.


But it’s only slight, this minor tumble into frailty

and resemblance.


How’s it going, my brother asks me later.

Like propping up dust, I say.


I once saw my mother kill a snake

that dared to trespass in her garden.


She never flinched, just thrust the shovel

downward to separate the head from all


the life that thrashed behind it.



About the Author

Meredith’s work has recently appeared in MantisPassages North, New Ohio Review, poemmemoirstory, and Salamander. Her third poetry collection, At The Narrows, came out from WordTech Communications in March of 2015. She has received four Pushcart Prize nominations, fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Meredith served as the 2013-2014 Rose O’Neill Writer-In-Residence at Washington College.