Saturday Sep 23

Kramer Ashley Seitz Kramer, winner of the Ruth Stone Prize, Schiff Prize, and most recently the Utah Writers’ Contest, has work forthcoming in Colorado Review, Western Humanities Review and The Burnside Review. In 2012, she was named a semi-finalist for the 42 Miles Press Book Award and the Felix Pollak/Brittingham Prizes, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Anti-. She taught college writing in Ohio for a decade and now serves as an Assistant Dean at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
 
 
 
Unquiet Is My Old House
                        for J.O.
 
 
I have a steady hand and the knowledge
   of whose hands have first entered
these deep kitchen drawers and in what kind
   of pain. That’s ridiculous, I know, to think
of Joe, who lived here over forty years,
   but holy is the art of making a sandwich
in the presence of his haunting, the black stain
   of his walking path rising up through weeks’
worth of scraping and four coats of finish.
   Visitors claim not to notice, but I insist
upon them seeing it and saying so. It winds around
   and through the doorways, plain as day! I am comforted
by the windows and their contribution, gaps enough
   for all the wind and whine. I layer up and think of
my mother’s ghosts. When she was young she heard
   their steps at night, climbing the stairs of her
small house in California. Each tomato aging
   on my kitchen sill explains again its theory.
You can ripen and rot within the same few seconds.
   I hear my mother’s voice and the unease of her
most vivid story since it’s hardest to believe
   our own: the weight of a body at the end
of her bed that made her wake when she was six.
   She sat up, but no one was there. Just her
and her sisters—sleeping. Since when, I ask Joe,
   has their dreaming been as fearless?
 
 
 
 
Breathing Down the House
Variation on a Line by Sorescu
 
 
If only I could build myself a house
As far away as possible from
Myself.
                   Marin Sorescu
 
 
If only I could build myself
a house with feathers then breathe
it down. I'd build it
 
on a Tuesday. I’d forget
to make a door. I'd unfold the briefest
memories like stiffened sheets
 
and then could I ask myself
any kind of question? Would I hear
the echo of an answer? If only I could
 
build myself a house with peaches
then eat it down or be a house
myself then wear it down with walking
 
or treading water or breaking bread
against my face. If only I could spin
a house from silk, unbury
 
the house that lay beneath this
one, soak it up to the surface
with crackers, spit it all back out.
 
If only I could build a house
with what has been left, to use
what has been judged
 
unusable, to be then like the island
making a pyramid
from a puddle of earth.