Mary Mackey

Jacob’s Ladder

my great aunts    hair done up in braids
calico feedsack  dresses     aprons full of chicken feed
knew absolute silence    breath of a candle
hiss of a coal oil lamp    the cackle of a laying hen   
but what would they have said 
if I had spoken to them in Portuguese?

queridas tias / dearest aunts   the jungle is thicker than corn
mais grosso do que o milho
greener than cucumbers/mais verde do que pepinos
filled with black lagoons that shine like obsidian

queridas tias / dearest aunts   
sooner or later / mais cedo ou mais tarde
we all stand at the foot of a ladder that’s missing rungs
speaking in tongues no one can understand