We are the village, and you are the child
whose mother cares for the senile
man across the way—filling his spare
beds with strung-out strangers.
Tumbleweed-girl, with wind-blown hair,
you roll from one neighbor's house to another.
We dress you in pinafores and tie bows
around your pigtails, take you to museums
and ballets—knock on your window
to wake you for school. We feed
you French toast and buy you glittery
barrettes. We are the village,
surrounding the only spark of life
left in a house so crammed with living-dead,
no one can see emptiness.
Husband, I want to ripen
into a woman like your mother,
one who wiggles an arm
into the nook of a son's elbow,
feet twisting obscure angles
across frosty streets, refusing a cane.
Whose only hope from tipping
over in the lane with a dizzy spell,
is not a bottle of pills, but a bag
of chocolate sweets.
A stiff-upper-lip kind of lady,
who jeers at heart attacks
and broken hips, and raises hell
when trapped in a ward with old people.
One who still makes tea each
morning over the burner, even though
she catches her sleeves on fire.
A woman with no riches, but a few
baubles of costume jewelry
and collection of miniature brass
animals that glint in sun like a row
(published in The Boston Literary Magazine 2011)
Karen Kelsay is the editor of the White Violet Press chapbook
company, and has been published in a variety of journals including:
Mezzo Cammin, The Christian Science Monitor, The Flea, The Lyric,
Grey Sparrow, Pirene's Fountain and The Hypertexts. She has received
five Pushcart Prize nominations and has authored four chapbooks and
a full length collection. Her most recent book is Lavender Song
(Fortunate Childe Press 2011).
Kendall A. Bell
Carol Lynn Grellas
Robert Lavett Smith