Two Poems by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Two Poems

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Still Life: 35

There are gifts we don’t ask for that descend
On us, those long afternoons in bed. Enjoy
Her, they say. She’ll grow up. Days like this
The only cure is the verb to grow, spindly
As it is without foliage on its branch. We
Enjoy them like spinach. Barely and with iron
Threads between the teeth. What we need
Is a big fat goose: something ridiculous
To feed ourselves while the young can’t
Watch: some gift that fattens, that lifts
The sheets and us out of bed, forcing some
Dangerous taste in our mouths: we made this
Life. We did it and brought it into our mad-
House, one petal-print at a time. To home
A thing is a rented curse: this is your face,
Goofball. It’s your play today, so out
Of bloody bed. You can’t turn
Your back on it, after all.


How to Be a God

To be a god, first
fashion yourself
up in red clay
from the riverbank
where you might
or might not have
been born. Claim
forever not: gods
come out of the sky,
not the sluice
of some woman
who let a man come
in. To be a god
you must cover
your tracks. Cut
ancestors out, cut
out sisters, take
a stand on celibacy.
Kill all things you
do not wish
to be god of.
Choose what you
do. Volcanoes
and the autumn
are taken, ocean
too, but there are still
sagebrush, oxlips,
marshmallows, things
newer than coal
that are still unclaimed.
Claim them. Rub
your scent over them.
Say, these are mine,
all must sacrifice
to me, pray to me,
give me praise.


© Elisabeth Sharp McKetta


Elisabeth Sharp McKettaElisabeth Sharp McKetta teaches writing for Harvard Extension School and is the author of three books, The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell (2013), The Creative Year: 52 Workshops for Writers (2014), and Poetry for Strangers (2015). Her PhD (University of Texas, 2009) focused on the intersections between fairy tales and autobiography. Elisabeth lives in Boise with her family.