J.C. Todd: “Who’s Missing?”


The babies who didn’t make it, your parents, theirs
and theirs. Cousins, good and awful, gerbils, the stray
cat who gave birth in the outdoor grill where your father

refused to char a London broil again. Your childhood
home, a tear-down. A volunteer that grew into
the maple where your daughter learned to climb, buzzed down

to a stump. Irene, her quick-switch crazes for collies,
for gumballs, for swamps. Aunts and uncles, former
spouses, lovers, classmates, the Dutch rabbit you walked

harnessed and leashed. And the birds, those one or two
each year who flew into the picture window, and
the answer to the question why was it called picture

when what you saw through it was real. The dogs. A brother
you went missing from—now that’s a missing you
don’t miss the way you miss your baby sister who

you never saw, yet everything you see is because
of her, her disappearance no one speaks of, that
first and always missing the measure of what’s real.

J. C. Todd was awarded the 2016 Rita Dove Poetry Prize and was named the finalist in the 2015 PSA Robert Winner Memorial Contest. She holds fellowships from the Pew Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Ucross and Ragdale Foundations. Her poetry collections include FUBAR, an artist-book collaboration (Lucia Press, 2016), What Space This Body (Wind Publications2008) and two chapbooks, with poems in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Ekphrasis. She has taught poetry at Bryn Mawr College and is on the MFA faculty at Rosemont.

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