R: Poems by Tammy Robacker. Number 14 in the Keystone Chapbook Series, selected by Deirdre O’Connor.
Release date: May 15, 2016 [100 copies]
Cover image: Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, “The Reprimand” (1852). Photographed at the Brooklyn Museum by Billy Hathorn, 2011.
Tammy Robacker’s second poetry book, Villain Songs, is forthcoming with ELJ Publications in 2016. Tammy published her first collection, The Vicissitudes, in 2009 (Pearle Publications). Former Poet Laureate of Tacoma and a Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence award winner, Tammy’s poetry has appeared in The Lake, Menacing Hedge, Chiron Review, VoiceCatcher, Duende, So to Speak, Crab Creek Review, WomenArts, Up the Staircase Quarterly and many more. Currently enrolled in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University, she will be graduating in 2016. Tammy lives in Oregon; visit her website here.
My father carved his last initial
out of wood, then painted it black
and nailed it outside our house
the summer my parents split.
Like he could claim it. He widened
the driveway. Bought a station wagon
to give added room. It was loaded
and drove smooth. The back window
rolled down automatic. So there I’d sit
to mourn the perfectly good landscape
we passed. What a contrary perspective.
Homes, shrubs, lawns all falling away
as I faced out. On our last family trip
they had already called it quits. Still
my father paid a diver at SeaWorld
to go underwater and pull up a shell
with a cultured pearl for my mother.
It was pure pain he presented to her.
Himself raw and flawed, admiring
her hand as she looked away. His ache
palpable on the ride back. In dark
reminder, that black plaque hung over
the whole lot. Another home sold. Sacks
of bright white gravel around the yard.
The sound of his desperate scrape raking
at rocks, the end of our drive, a marriage.