Marie Kane


Listen to Audio Version.

To shake off the nightmare, she should rise
         out of bed and perform house patrol:
inspect the loose lock on the kitchen door,
         erase long ago phone messages,
stroke the cats' silky fur, answer week-old
         emails, or better yet, write a poem,
and then find sleep, having accomplished

But she cannot roll over, sit up, nor stand
         unaided—only lie pillow-propped:
elbows, neck, knees cosseted, while a soft
         brace clenches her left foot,
and a slanted wedge suspends it like some
         chorus girl mid-kick. Shadows
of her disability implements—walker, quad
         cane, wheelchair—spear the room's

Reading, white noise, podcasts, fail to bring
         sleep. Desperate right thumb clicks
the TV remote through listings of criminal -
         mayhem, weight-loss gimmicks, home
repair. She yearns to latch onto anything
         that will halt this nightmare-ridden
sleep, douse this fireball of wakefulness,
         and deliver that ripe, elusive letting go.

* * *


Listen to Audio Version.

We scraped, swore, wore our fingers raw
with the resistance of the house's dry wood
to coats of primer and paint. Every two years,

I would steady the metal ladder while you
climbed to the top dormers to paint
and paint again. Like our marriage,

the clapboards shouldered peeling paint—
until white flakes splintered and fell
to the yard mixing with the gravel driveway,

sidewalk, and open grass. We had survived
asbestos removal, ugly carpet we couldn't
afford to change, the rusting mailbox,

annoying neighbors, raucous and rainy
July Fourth parties and their muddy
aftermath, screen door that caught

your heel as it closed if you weren't
quick enough to step in, and an unsightly
wallpapered bathroom used by five.

Two babies birthed there, resonance
of voices, echoes of sweetness, implications
of hopelessness.

What would have happened had we stayed?


* First published: Museletter, National Association of Poetry Therapy, Fall, 2015.


Marie Kane's poetry has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, included in ten anthologies, and has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Meadowland Review, U. S. 1 Worksheets, I-70 Review, Adanna Literary Journal, and others. She is a founding board member and student judge for the Main Street Voices Poetry Contest. Her chapbook, Survivors in the Garden, (Big Table Publishing, 2012) centers on her life with multiple sclerosis. She is the 2006 Bucks County (PA) Poet Laureate and the poetry editor for Pentimento magazine. She and her husband, Stephen Millner, an artist, live in Yardley, PA with their two rescue cats. See more at