The Kingdom of Childhood

by | Feb 2, 2015 | Poetry

after Edna St. Vincent Millay

No one I knew had yet died.
Only pets, and not the ones
I especially loved.
Just the orange-striped kitten
caught under the car tire,
his body peppered with fleas.
I cradled him until his wild blue eyes closed,
then fetched a Ziploc bag. We buried
him by the ditch, and I cried until
my mother called me in for supper.

But I did not wake the next winter
thinking of him, sobbing with my blanket
in my mouth, and choke out,
What is life? What is death?
Childhood was an island
where no one truly suffered.
My mother never had cancer.
Neither did I. My sister
never swallowed too many pills.
My brother was never caged—
he whooped round the bases
of the little league field and slurped
snow cones and fidgeted in church.
In childhood, I had time to say,
I will never die. Time to say,
My life belongs to me.


Photo By: CameliaTWU

About The Author

Sara Hughes

Sara Hughes earned a PhD in English from Georgia State University in 2014. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The 2015 Best of the Net Anthology, and the 2015 Independent Best American Poetry Award. She has published in Rattle, Reed, Rosebud, TAB, Atlanta Review, Emrys, and Atticus Review, among others. Sara has also received two writing fellowships from I-Park Foundation and one from The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. She teaches literature and writing at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia.