Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence



By Kelly Sievers

After they argued she often fled

one arm in her coat,

the door slamming. She marched up the block

wearing her house shoes –

dark brown with fat heels, and tight laces.

The boy, her oldest,

would hope she had taken her wool scarf, blue

and smelling of lilacs.

He could watch her in Mrs. Schuster's

pale yellow porch light.

She passed the Petronik's sloping driveway

- so perfect for sledding –

and the McMahon's house. Their mothers never

left the house at night.

Then he would lose sight of her and guess she

stood at the corner

gazing into the Chevrolet showroom.

Would she wait beneath

the Coakley Brothers clock for the bus? No,

onward, he imagined,

past the tooth on Dr. Riley's office window,

past Hooligan's tavern,

past the public school, until, he came to learn,

she arrived at Saint Anne's.

Kneeling in the first pew, she would pour

her hot anger

into the sanctuary's single light,

leaving it to cool there

like the bacon grease she saved in a crock

on the kitchen stove.

One morning helping her clean the kitchen

he lifted that crock

and surprised by a new layer of heat,

he tossed it high.

Grease rained down, burnt his hands, seared a circle

onto his sister's back

and etched a narrow path on the baby's

bald head.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 70, no. 4 (Winter 1996)


Kelly Sievers

Kelly Sievers lives in Portland, Oregon. She began writing in 1986. Her work has been published in many literary journals and in nine anthologies, including A Call to Nursing (Kaplan Publishing), Between The Heartbeats, Boomer Girls, Intensive Care (University of Iowa Press), The Poetry of Nursing (Kent State University Press), Prairie Hearts, and Vacations (Outrider Press). Her poems have appeared in Calapooya Collage, Cloudbank, Descant, Ellipsis, Ekphrasis, Greensboro Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Journal of Medical Humanities, Mediphors, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Poet and Critic, Rattle, The Seattle Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, The Bridge, The Permanente Journal, The Western Journal of Medicine, Windfall, and Writer's Forum.

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