Bad Survivalist Poetry: “The world in which I open up google earth and my dead mother is feeding the horses.” by Megan Merchant

Bad Survivalist: Megan Merchant

The world in which I open up google earth and my dead mother is feeding the horses.

I imagined it differently. The paddock flooded.
The donkey and sheep a fence over, cuddled
under the mare. I want to pull up and show
her my new haircut so she can make that face,
then make the word okay sound like a derailment.
I want to tell her about the fire and how our
neighbor scrambled the yard gathering her chickens
through smoke. I never found out what she did
with them, if she scrunched those warm feathery
bodies in to the back of her station wagon and took
off for Tempe, or Tallahassee. My mother would
know. She wanted to become the patron saint of
all animals and I imagine she hasn’t stopped
auditioning for the gig. I imagined that she would
come to me, too, after death. After whiskey, or fucking
on a Tuesday morning when the kids were in school
and the ravens etched treetop to treetop, hunting. After
crying when her sick-bed blanket made it into my hands.
After her guitar string broke, or the prayer to some Sunday-
school saint hedges out of my mouth. The one where
I am in the drop-off line and wince handing my children
over, I ask her to stay with them, keep them alive.
In her eyes, I was always coming up short anyhow,
why not turn the reins over now that she is ephemera.
But, it turns out, she has been home all along, arranging
the horses’ feed bags the exact way they like them. As if
she knew that would be the one thing we would never
figure out alone.

Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona, with her husband and two children. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018); four chapbooks; and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at The Comstock Review and you can find her work at 


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