Spring/Summer 2021 Issue – Identity

Not Yet

Kelly McMahan

A distant hour on a Tuesday night,
I wish who I was, by laptop-light
I memorize prose to memorize my name
I aim to compose to appear to sustain
Clock in
Clock out
Tally up the years
Until I become her
And not standing here.
I think that I’m ready, and yet I still wail
with Martha Wainwright, at the top of my stairs

Will it make a good promise?
If I count every week?
How long until my first sip
from conviction’s clear creek?
I wish who I was, by regaining feeling
I pen down a future, I pin down a dream
I will be a marvel
I will be a machine
I sink my teeth into this prophecy.
I think I am there, and then comes a wake
I chew on my plans, and I suffocate

All of who I am
Is For
Who I will be
So I bang on the iron bars of being seventeen
“One day, I’ll be beautiful and cruel,”
A shard of glass waiting in sifted, swift sand
where the poetic footprints are made by a man.
All of who I am becomes who I will be, and then she
will be waiting by that wild, still-water creek
The reward of my waiting is you, not me…

But who will brush out my hair, if not me?
Today, every day, who brushes my teeth?
I wipe off my hands, some things I must keep.
Dear, do not
Search your mirror for some sort of stale peace.
Who takes every step, if not my own feet?