by Kelly Cherry
The curtain flies in the open window.
The girls are jumping on and off
The bed on which their father slept.
He has gone out in anorak
And wide-brimmed hat and Wellingtons,
And with a walking stick. The girls
Pretend that one of them is sick.
The curtain falls still, so still its shadow
Seems painted on the windowsill.
The toy penguin on the table
Has its wings spread wide. The girls
Play school and mark each other’s papers.
(They have grown tired of smelling-salts,
The vapors.) He has reached the top
Of the mountain (for I can see
Him from here). The curtain stirs,
Snags on thorns and burrs. The girls
Play war and snip out pics of ships
And Spam. On an island like this,
Lacking reference points, everything
At a distance looks huge, and seen
From the crown of the furze-covered mountain,
A rooster will look as big as a man.
The girls bring tea to the toy penguin.
The freed curtain flies in the open
Window, and the jam-jar daisies
That were picked from the garden spill
On the floor like girls galore.
The winner of numerous awards and holder of several chaired professorships, including the Eudora Welty Professorship of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kelly Cherry is a prolific writer of poetry, essays and fiction. Her many books include Death and Transfiguration: Poems (LSU, 1997), The Life and Death of Poetry(LSU, 2013), The Woman Who [Stories] (Boson Books, 2010) and A Kind of Dream [linked stories] (Wisconsin, 2014). Cherry is a former Poet-in-Residence for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the recipient of the 2012 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry.