A Poem by Kasey Jueds

Kasey Jueds

Kasey Jueds

Kasey Jueds’s first book of poems, Keeper, won the 2012 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her poems have been published in journals including American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Narrative, Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, and Pleiades, and her reviews appear in Salamander, The Rumpus, Tar River Poetry, EcoTheo, and Jacket2. She lives in Philadelphia.

The Tool Shed

How can I explain the way
I kept coming back—to that box

of trapped shadows with its concrete
floor, its constant chill even

on the most blazing August days. To
the stacked cans of paint with their stuck-shut lids

like the eyes of animals burrowed
in the farthest reach of forest. To the locked-in

air trembling, dense with the chemicals
that fumed from ancient bottles of pesticides & herbicides

lining the cinderblock walls, exhaling their pure
dream of destruction into the unbending

dim. Inside that room that was never
a room, I offered my clavicles, my soft heels

pale as milkweed silk, to the trowels, the shears
dulled with rust. It wasn’t enough. And after,

outside, released into heat and the bright net
the barn swallows kept threading with their flight, the warped door

finally pulled shut behind me—even then that smell
stung my throat, my lungs, lingered in the hollows of me

like a shame I could never tell. And
after, years after, when we’d paid a man to haul

the poisons away, their scent still cleaved to corners, thrashed
its wings against the false dusk like an angel

unable to speak of the next world, weaving
her impossible life between the broken

croquet mallets, the rope strands of the hammock
meant to bear our bodies above the clamor

of summer grass. There is no away. Now, I want to say
come back there with me, though every time I stepped

into that place I was alone. And every time, the angel
receded into air so thick it could almost

claim a color. She was old and I
was young still, and still I knew

how she would cling there, how I’d
never see her, how she would never

let me go, even as I tugged the swollen door
back again into its frame, as I struggled

to make it fit, to return
the perfect darkness to itself.