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At Arm’s length
For my niece, Oliviah

Listen to the Poem

You remember watching your two year old daughter flounder in a pit of foam during gymnastics. She looks like you feel. She grimaces with struggle and grunts with fight. She is so unaware of your arm reaching out to her. Or is that focus—determination? Her body wiggles tactfully; displacing her weight amongst the jagged foam squares. The same movement she made in the bath tub months earlier as a mermaid in rough seas. Was that her practice? Was that her preparation for this pit? Her chest heaves onto the platform, chubby legs kicking foamy edges for better leverage. She crawls to a stand. Her victory is equal to yours. She pursues balance without hesitation. Removed from the scene, is that grimace now a smile? Weren’t those grunts really giggles? You couldn’t get close enough to tell and she was too unaware to fail.

– Victoria Lozano is a lecturer at Appalachian State University, teaching 2nd and 3rd years the beauty and empowerment of rhetoric. From poems to news articles, she has been published in the Carolina Forest Chronicle, Archarios, PaniK: Candid Stories of Life Altering Experiences Surrounding Pregnancy, and her blog “Why We Teach College.”

 

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

Listen to the Poem

The day started out blue & white,
like a tile. And I was happy with the spoon ring, resting
on a layer of dried lavender which made me think of
the Bement farmstead, cedar smoke, a hot
glowing horseshoe.
When I went back to the museum, I was really
going back to that house, to the yellow sparks
spreading like pollen.
In the statuary I was
a statue in the kitchen, in
an apron, standing near the blackened hearth,
the beehive oven,
eyebrows drawn together like the hinge
of a half-open door and on the other side
someone was playing a harpsichord.
And that was all it took: we were back where we started.
There was still a little color
left in us. We were an Egyptian procession, a little ochre
still on the granite wall. And silver was the rarest thing:
what the hearth god’s bones
were made of.

WAITING FOR THEIR ARRIVAL

On the table, the paper cups. And the tablecloth. The blue tablecloth. The blue tablecloth and the blue sweater she was wearing. The blue window. Somewhere the sound of a car radio. It was April and the smell of old snow and new earth. Like we had cut out frozen squares of lawn and just turned them over.

The story is – we were new at pretending. The cups I turned over on the table and their sound, like pulling a plug. Like yanking a core of bluegreen ice from a glacier. Like tapping a sugar maple. I didn’t think anything. I just turned them over.

And somewhere the sound of old snow dropping from the gutter. In my gut something turning over.  A shovelful of earth.

The blue tablecloth, a fistful of burlap.

The paper cups, a row of tin pails.

– Katie Hogan recently completed her MFA in Poetry at the University of New Hampshire, where she studied with Charles Simic, David Rivard, and Mekeel McBride. Hogan’s poems have appeared in Ragazine, Pure Francis, The Light Ekphrastic, and CRATE Magazine.

 

The Pieta is Featured on Yet Another Website for Bereaved Moms

Listen to the Poem

There’s Mary again, Mother of God, holding the dead
Christ, her grief agleam and bowed beauty intact.

The way her raiment gathers so delicately
over her forehead is enough to make me doubt.

Some of us identify with another Mary, mother
of dead Willie and dead Tad, with her hysterics and wild hair.

Even Abe called her Mother, until the day he was murdered
in the theater. Now she’s a mother with whom to wail.

I summon her like she called her dead, and together
we’ll buy hundreds of hats that we’ll stack in unused rooms.

We’ll interview mediums until we find one who can shake
the table and whip the ether into stiff peaks.

We’ll bid on armoires and buy ball gowns. We’ll hold
one another. We’ll laugh and keen with the same screech.

Mary Todd, I love your rough chapped cheeks, upended
brilliance, and the way you kept your pain stripped and shaking.

The lustrous Mary’s son was back from the dead before her mind
had time to untwine itself. Oh Mary Todd, our kids stayed dead.

You are my pieta, wailing for Willie, for Abe and for Tad,
you, hot-faced on the floor, in the crumpled pile of your stiff dress.

– Sue Reed Crouse was selected for a 2-year poetry apprenticeship at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her work, largely elegiac in nature after suffering the death of her 20 year-old daughter, appears in Grey Sparrow, Aurorean (showcase poet), Earth’s Daughters, Talking Stick (honorable mention) & Verse Wisconsin.

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