Wednesday Feb 21

GroomKelle Kelle Groom is the author of three poetry collections, most recently, Five Kingdoms (Anhinga Press, 2010). Her memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a Library Journal Best Memoir of 2011, was just released in paperback from Free Press/Simon & Schuster (April 2012). Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2010, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among others. She is the recipient of fellowships from Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada-Las Vegas in partnership with the Library of Congress, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Millay Colony for the Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, American Antiquarian Society, and Ucross Foundation, as well as both a 2010 and a 2006 Florida Book Award, a State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs grant, and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant. Groom is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence (2012-2013) in the Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, English Department, and she is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College.


I thought I was early or on time
the light still silver
I felt unconcealed the air
was so cold and someone in a hall
handed me a paper cup of tea
the buildings medieval so that
it was like an old city
as if we’d gone back in time
but you wanted to hide me
even as you introduced me
hide a kind of hall
a hull where I grew
older and thought of the calendar
in your kitchen with the periods
marked of your previous
girlfriend in magic marker
as she planned
for a baby that never appeared
you’d found that after several
years one could re-use
a calendar from long before
and somehow the numbers
days and weeks all
lined up exactly again

Hill Street

The only way to heat the house
is to open the oven door.
Sometimes an old grate in the wall
turns red but it leads
to a stairwell with a door
that fell off  its hinges
rusted by salt, and besides, the wall
opposite the grate and the stove
is almost all windows
that open on the ocean, the moon
so close it comes inside one night.
I slept like a stone with the cold inside
on the white bed, ceiling on fire
with ants chewing the wood
into gauze. Wings falling
on furniture. The moon
came inside my dark room
to touch my face like a hand,
waking me up.
The light on my body
made a path that ran
across the water out to sea,
as if I were no different
than any other element.

Reading Room, Worcester

He had so little vanity,
the light blue raincoat—sky
colored—that he wore to a reading
was unlike any article of clothing
I’d ever seen, like a sky tent with a
belt,  as if he’d come from the future
or the past or the place where the
animals think, the ones for whom
we are just light, and I loved
the way we were enfolded.
I could tell you the happiness
was great, the abject
near, but it’s that moment
when I desired to hurt him
that hurts me over and over
that turns.
The word were unlike any
I’d ever heard, sometimes all
we did was talk for hours
in restaurants—he’d tell the
hostess that we had business
to discuss, I think he may
have even had a briefcase, and
he’d ask for a quiet table.
Today I sat at a table in a very
quiet room, with other readers
of old books, and I was not allowed
to leave the room without giving
my book and folder of old letters to the librarian
for safe keeping, so when I began
to cry I could feel the other
readers lift their eyes from their pages—
they were at a table beside me
and tables and tables facing me—
but I couldn’t leave the room without
gathering things and standing , walking,
facing the librarian with the tears
that I can’t get  to stop, so I kept
wiping them away, and they kept
falling, there was no stopping them.
So finally I simply went to the desk
and let them all see that I couldn’t
stop crying in the reading room.
I’d seen a picture of grass that was
the grass I knew, the water, trees,
the light that I most loved. I think
they thought I was in physical pain,
that I was withstanding. Maybe
we could have let it just slide off,
the trouble, maybe we could have
just breathed quietly in the gray
car. It felt familiar, that meanness
that rose up when I felt backed
into a corner, the equivalent
of a punch, some old thing I thought
I’d given up.