The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows


The Book of Revelation predicted what our human
minds as a whole could do, as far as creating our
own destruction.
–Lonnie Holley

My grandfather shot himself.
The worst part came in the months before: he’d announce
I’ll do it today, then lock
the bedroom door. My grandmother
rested her back to the frame and listened for the clicks
of an empty chamber. I don’t know
the kind of gun he used. It must’ve been
a pearl-handled pistol
like the toy he gave me in a plastic holster.

I’m not afraid of death
so much as I’m afraid of his blood
in mine. He tooled leather, he made
saddles. He cracked walnuts
two or three at a time in one fist
while I sat in his lap. While my grandmother
watched his fist. Always his fist.

His eyes: one wandering, one stuck
like its socket had been stuffed with tinfoil. His teeth:
pebbles smoothed by water and cracked
open with a hammer. I won’t be buried near him
though my grandmother
rests forgiving as ever next to the box
holding what’s left of him. I won’t be buried.
His gravestone is a clock made of the stamps
he used like extensions of his heavy hands
to mark leather. His gravestone is a hubcap
striking a curb, a helmet crushed
under steel, a cane propped against a crib’s rail.

Looking Over the Edge, I see only
a handmade saddle with tarnished silver
riding its rim. I won’t be buried near him. I won’t
be buried. I want to see mountaintops
as something other than planks to walk. What,
tell me, is below and
what comes between the jump and impact?

Here in my South angels and devils
wear the same color white. Jesus Christ
is a curse and a prayer. Blood gives
and stunts life.

His gravestone is a clock’s hand
pointing to me. He never saw a baby born. He never
saw my grandmother’s body rearranged like a car
on cinder blocks. The only way to go
is inside myself, to open the rusty hinges
and let the darks of my eyes illuminate
all that they contact: the sun, checkerboard tile,
an angry fist jerking for the last time.

This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at


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