Two Poems

By Jill Bergkamp

John Wesley; Epworth Rectory, 1709

After, he will forget his slow waking.
How the nurse snatched the baby
as servants scrambled through the windows.

His mother’s scorched arms and legs.
The largeness of his fathers’ hands shielded
by trousers, beaten back by flames.

He will forget his brothers and sisters,
their nightclothes in the garden. The commending
of his spirit. He will not remember

his call unanswered, the streaks of flame on the ceiling,
the chest he trundled to the window,
or the rising from his knees.

Only this; the world divided
with a holy precision; the blue white flame
between firmament and earth,

smell of straw smoke, and heather—
The way the flames licked the rectory bones clean:
the whole of the moon rising to meet him.


John & Susanna Wesley; Kitchen Lessons

Her neck to shoulder measures L,
C is the curve of her cheekbone.
Susanna points with a spoon
and pronounces the letters,

her teeth capturing the sound
of collapse, and construction,
as words rise and fall; their solidness
a container. They storm

through John with unbearable
sweetness; the blizzard of X;
the moon of O, the lamenting tongue
of Q. P strains its beak head,

while L’s spine rests against maple.
Each sound, a timber, falling. What calls
to him are the letters’ unlit places; the hidden nests
of B, the hollow in Y’s arms raised heavenward.

His need for her will become the need for a world
less broken. In morning’s orange light he sees
where two lines meet to form A’s steeple;
one triangle of window, thick clouds of black soot.

Jill Bergkamp works as a director of children’s ministries in West Palm Beach, Florida, and teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has poems published or forthcoming in Third Coast, The Southeast Review, Sugar House Review, Rattle, and Christian Century, and was the recipient of a Rona-Jaffe Breadloaf Poetry Scholarship.

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