Vox Populi

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Jessica Temple: A Study of Conjugation in Medias Res

And suddenly I wonder exactly how many times this had to happen

for both of us to be exactly here, exactly now.

How many generations of ancestors coupled at just the right time.

How many of them were happy, eager at the moment of conception.

How many consummating marriages. How many needed

more babies because the cards were stacked against them.

I wonder if any of the women were coerced, if the men were nervous,

telling themselves to wait, wait in some long-forgotten language.

All that sliding of skin, the gloss of sweat,

the small gasps escaping from the lips for centuries:

Our great-grandparents—in the Appalachian foothills in the First World War,

on a little farm in East Tennessee, somewhere near the Mississippi a few years later.

Then the grandparents, yours and mine, moving closer now—

Georgia, Alabama. And then my parents, in a trailer, I suppose

with a bunch of kittens in the blocks underneath,

red tractor and olive-lime Maverick parked out front.

And later, yours way out on the West Coast

smelling salt and sourdough. And then you.

You and me and right now.

Copyright 2021 Jessica Temple. From Daughters of Bone (Madville, 2021). Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author and Madville Publishing.

Jessica Temple grew up in Alabama and teaches at Alabama A&M University.


2 comments on “Jessica Temple: A Study of Conjugation in Medias Res

  1. kim4true
    February 2, 2022

    23 & Me made all the implications in this poem clear to me!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. José A. Alcántara
    February 2, 2022

    I like how the poem addresses a universal question with an interesting, particular answer. Wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2022 by in Poetry, spirituality and tagged , , , .

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