Missive to Nancy by Cathryn Shea

Missive to Nancy 

Dear sister, you would be astonished to know
that I now occupy a house (with only my husband
and cat since the kids have left) which is the same
architecture and plan, built the same year
as that place on Santa Maria Avenue.
It’s a pattern house, a kit. A step up maybe
from ticky tacky, a little box nevertheless.
When I sit in my living room now,

I imagine you shaking your crib into the hallway
from our parents’ bedroom where you were supposed to be
sound asleep for the night per our mother’s anxious prayer:
God Almighty, make baby sleep. Amen.
But, no, you would appear in the hallway at the helm
of your slatted conveyance. Shaking, banging, rattling forward.
Pointing to mother on the couch in front of the TV.

So now I sit here and recall you in your Annie Oakley getup
with six-shooter and holster. Or I see you in your highchair,
bowl of cereal spilled over your head,
milk dripping everywhere, our mother wiping up the mess,
cussing then apologizing for words
that had no meaning to her little girls
who didn’t have a vocabulary for what would be
the design of their lives in this world.



Cathryn Shea is the author of the full-length poetry collection “Genealogy Lesson for the Laity” (Unsolicited Press, September 2020) and the chapbooks “Backpack Full of Leaves” (Cyberwit, 2019), “Secrets Hidden in a Pear Tree” (dancing girl press, 2019), and “It’s Raining Lullabies” (dancing girl press, 2017). Cathryn’s poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and appears in New Orleans Review, Typehouse, Tar River Poetry, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. Cathryn served as editor for the annual Marin Poetry Center Anthology. See https://www.cathrynshea.com/ and @cathy_shea on Twitter.

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