Issue > Poetry
Kelle Groom

Kelle Groom

Kelle Groom’s four poetry collections include Spill (Anhinga Press). Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster) was a B&N Discover selection and NYTBR Editor's Choice. She is MFA faculty at Sierra Nevada College, and education director at Fine Arts Work Center.

Mary Rohan's Mother

always wore black, her Kinsale
cloak like a dark bird Queen
Elizabeth might wear
on her back, collar
fanned wings, and when
Mary Rohan's mother
would see a bird on the water,
any little thing, she'd begin
screaming, head
for the harbor edge in the days
after her son disappeared
in a rowboat with Conn
and another boy, all of them
drinking on one side of town,
needing a ride to the farm
blinking across the cold black
water, snow.
Three boys where the ocean
comes into the town, where the first
people sailed
into this horseshoe ground.
In the field of their house,
everyone worked. No electric,
two rooms, but the lawn
is a country itself, a green Riviera
down to the sea where
there is a hole in the rowboat,
shoes of the boys dripping,
kiltered from laughter, they're
too far out when the water
rises, one boy is already over
board, and Conn is ready
to swim when he sees
Mary Rohan's mother's
son lower his head,
arms across his chest,
the strongest boy of all
the three in every sport,
he bent over as if he'd
given in
to what would come
without one stroke,
and then Conn was under
water, swimming, dragging
up sand. Two weeks before
the body came
ashore, before each bird
didn't give his mother
hope his hand was reaching
up, and she wore her cloak
until she died, her daughter
older than that now, holding
my hands, asking God
to let us meet again.

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