Marie Kane


Listen to the audio version.

Forgive your body its flaws, inabilities.
Place the future in a knot of the largest oak

where stillness reigns. The day will pass not
as light but as paths of shout-yellow tulips

and royal lilacs wielding their froth. Sit under
the Japanese maple, absorb spring-warm sun

and bird song that beats the air with chip-chips,
trills, whistles. All is sharpened by morning rain,

spiked air, arriving summer. Dream all in 'till loud
rush of wing halts nestlings' clamor. How simple

yet astounding to feed one's brood into quietness.
The same with your own whom you fed in this chair

under this tree on a day much like this one.
Observe the sundial mark light's last, red flare.


* * *


Listen to the audio version.

If the world sings welcome! to whole bodies,
          and expects the slow, the old, the disabled
to cling to doorways envying birds,
          how do you venture out to dinner?

But you do when you're reminded of your husband's
          words—Be tough; the world doesn't expect
it from you
. At the restaurant, your scooter skillfully navigates
          around handbags and shoes, chair legs
and banquettes. Then you wait until the waiter
          brings a chair with arms, and if there's no

chair with arms, you sit, your body wavering
          like a round-bottomed Russian doll—
your husband supporting you.

Dinner is a flurry of chest-protector napkins
          to counter your unsteady fork. He cuts
your salmon, asparagus, and later, laughing,
          feeds you cake with his fingers as he
did years ago at your wedding.

It's raining when you leave the restaurant.
          On the street, car lights paint wet, white stripes.
Your husband runs interference on the sidewalk—
          a polite, sharp-elbowed blocker—

but he can't clear everyone. Ahead of you, people talk
          to each other, to their cell phones. No one says,
Oh, I'm sorry, when they stop on a dime—that absent-
          minded standstill as if they forgot something
important. You must halt the scooter with a jerk to not
          run into them—they still don't notice you.

You fantasize driving through rain-filled puddles
          with hidden depths, turning the speed to max
(four miles an hour!) and splashing dirty puddle-water
          on the shoes and legs blocking you,
wheel-catch be damned.

Your car comes into view.
          Scooter angles toward the car's open
passenger door; your husband helps you stand,
          turn, and sit, while he lifts your legs
into the car.

Seatbelt click, head back, you're thankful that you
          stayed upright, that you both could relish
a meal that he didn't have to cook.

On the way home, you study the untroubled moon
          above the nightfall, its meteoroid impacts,
volcanic action long gone, the Sea of Crises
          and the Ocean of Storms, reminders.


* * *


Listen to the audio version.

      for Sandy

You had parked your car a mile away, then, head down,
      hood up, walked into the woods clasping the metal
in your pocket. I imagine your coiled heart is untouched

by grief, untarnished by hour. I'm writing on this day of thanks
      as if this tree of lines is hope, but also terror, also day-
light, also a bridge across the chasm—now unfathomably deep

between us. When you are found in the woods—a young park
      ranger's introduction to purposeful death—I'm buying
flour, butter, apples to bake pies for the next day's feast.

As you are identified, my girls and I are laughing, forming
      balls of dough to refrigerate before rolling into perfect
circles, then folding them over half, then a quarter, next turning

into a pie dish, then unfolding and pressing the dough
      into the bottom, filling with apples, cinnamon, nutmeg,
brown sugar – a mound of crumb topping covering all.

Then the phone rings, and I know.

They place you into a plain, pine coffin that other friends bless
      with lavender and prayer. When our Thanksgiving bounty
appears, my throat at first rebels. But then, I welcome piles

of creamy mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing—loving
      its chopped onions and celery—chunky cranberry
sauce with its tart and sweet taste, tender turkey, rich gravy

ribboning its surface and my daughter's French apple pie.
      How am I enjoying this meal? I cannot eat enough,
as if the food were a substitute for your laughter, your sweeping

dance moves, your treasured friendship. On this day of thanks,
      I imagine that your hands—long and fine—will pencil
intricate poetry to form wings beating inside you.

You will always be the girl, no, the woman—timeless, now—
      fighting for herself, losing herself, then, finding herself
again. Again.


A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and Pennsylvania Bucks County Poet Laureate, Marie Kane has published three collections of lyric and narrative poems: Survivors in the Garden (Big Table Publishing, 2012), which mostly concerns her life with multiple sclerosis, Beauty, You Drive a Hard Bargain (Kelsay Press, 2017), and Persephone's Truth (2018), with art by her husband, Stephen Millner. They are available at select bookstores, as well as at and at Her poetry is widely published and anthologized.