“At Seventeen” by Karla Linn Merrifield

“At Seventeen” by Karla Linn Merrifield

Who was that cute boy,
brother as clean-cut teen,
with a folk guitar,
beardless chin to the mic
in the Franklin gym?
Who was my brother then, senior year,
with Gene in the middle, full-throated,
and Pete, nonchalant on his banjo?
Were they doing Tom Dooley or All My Trials?
Something Kingston Trio, something
earliest Dylan, a PP&M number?
The photograph, 1964 vintage,
a high school Kodak moment,
depicts my brother emerging
from the robin’s egg of innocence:
pre-Vietnam, pre-wine, pre-
long life of broken women.
The composition is such
there’s no telling the truth,
but I like to believe
his audience danced, classmates
sang along that December night
for Jimmy’s sake.


Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel toGodwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. Forthcoming this fall is Psyche’s Scroll, a full-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Selects. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poe Redux, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel; https://www.facebook.com/karlalinn.merrifield.