Still Life with Leg Brace & Pontiac

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We’re standing next to my grandfather’s
73 Grand Prix — newly polished, royal
blue — my mother, my grandmother and I.
I’m five years old, dressed in a wide collar suit
and plaid tie. Under my pants, my leg brace –
with its cork lift, metal bars, and leather straps —
reaches to my groin. My four-​toed club foot fits
inside my shoe like the corpse of someone else’s foot.

It’s my first day of Kindergarten. I love spinach,
my dog Moses and King Kong. It’s the bicentennial year,
the year of Jimmy Carter and the blizzard;
three years before my parents separated.

My grandmother wears her costume jewelry, high heels
and Sunday wig, and my mother, doe eyed and radiant,
stands like a saint, as the morning sun slices through
the walnut trees.

My grandfather, a pipe hanging from the side of his mouth,
wrestles with his Polaroid. He orders us to stand still,
as he squats, aims and yells “Say Cheese!”

After the photo I charge down the driveway like a runaway
grocery cart, my exaggerated gait forever pushing me left,
as my grandmother chases behind, frantic that I will fall,
or no longer need her. It’s my first day of kindergarten,
the possibilities are endless.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Jason Irwin

Jason Irwin is the author of A Blister of Stars (Low Ghost, 2016), Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), winner of the Transcontinental Poetry Award, and the chapbooks Where You Are (Night Ballet Press, 2014), & Some Days It’s A Love Story (Slipstream Press, 2005). He has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. He lives in Pittsburgh. www​.jasonir​win​.blogspot​.com

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