Olya Kenney

Forgive Me

As the three of us drove through Devon
hills I wasn’t listening – forgive me –
to your conversation about our morning
spent hiking scenic fields. I was remembering
the man at the airport who casually blew
cigarette smoke in the face of a woman
who’d come to meet him, and if his love
were true. When we turned a blind corner,
a wreck slid into view. Your conversation
about Leicester sheep stopped, appropriately,
but I kept thinking – forgive me – about sex
and smoking as a roadside officer, wearing
the Hi-Vis yellow coat of emergency mornings,
directed us around a crumpled red heap.
As I spread clotted cream on a warm scone
in a room full of handmade wooden toys,
and – forgive me – miniature ceramic dwarves,
you were laughing and I thought about a man
at Harrod’s gripping the waist of a headless
silver mannequin, pulling down her satin skirt,
fondling her shiny breasts. Two hours later,
only an ambulance parked on the hillside.
We kept going, past shaggy grey ponies,
and I thought about the simultaneity of death
and – forgive me – tea.

Que Sera

Heat slapped our faces with contempt and fruit flesh called to the bees, their humming so loud our skin buzzed with it. The sun chased us like a deranged lover and branches' thin shadows offered little cover as apricots crunched, oozing beneath our feet. The ones we plucked tasted as sweet as all those happy memories you wished you had. OK, I admit it, you never wished for happy memories. That was me. We were deep in the Red Valley. Our guide’s dog grabbed a jagged rock from the river, biting its flesh until it bled, as you men pulled hard, determined to make him let go. But the besotted dog wanted it so. Even the Angel of Mercy threw her hands up and flew away when she heard the dog begin to wail an aria to the stone dripping in his throat. Suddenly, it seemed the rock had had enough. It tumbled to the ground, slippery ochre. The dog wailed. I had a vision of cutting off his head. Que sera, sera, you said. My shoulders burned. There was no escaping it. You were my rock.

About the Author

Olya Kenney is a freelance writer, playwright, improviser, and abstract painter who divides her time between NYC, Denver, and Merida, Mexico. She has had the honor of studying with many renowned poets, including Seamus Heaney, Phil Levine, Derek Walcott, and Robert Pinsky. She has been published in Plume Poetry and the Journal of Interreligious Insight.