Three Poems by Gloria Heffernan

It Figures

My favorite figure
skaters are not
the ones who score
a perfect ten.
My favorites are
the ones who fall.

More specifically,
the ones who fall
and get back up.
without even brushing
the powdered ice
from their bruised behinds.
They just clamber
to their feet and go.

They are my heroes.
Why are there no
gold medals for them?
What is three minutes
of perfection compared to
a lifetime of resilience?



The knowing begins
to settle in layers
like the diagrams
in my fourth grade
science book
with its drawings
of the earth
from the crust
down to the core
where the molten center
bubbles quietly
until some seismic shift
causes it to churn,
erupt and obliterate
everything in its path.



If anyone should ask
what I most regret,
it will be the stories
I didn’t tell.

The story of the dream I had
the night before Jackie died.
The way he stood
at the foot of the steps
bathed in white light.
“I’m all right now,” he said,
after the long months
of suffering and surgeries.
“It’s okay.”

When his mother called
the next morning
to tell us he had died,
I never told her
that I already knew.
Never said,
“Don’t worry. He’s okay.”
Never tried to explain
why I didn’t cry
when I heard the news.

And now she too is gone.


Gloria Heffernan is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and Exploring Poetry of Presence: A Companion Guide for Readers, Writers and Workshop Facilitators (Back Porch Productions). She has written two chapbooks: Hail to the Symptom (Moonstone Press) and Some of Our Parts, (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including Chautauqua, Braided Way, Stone Canoe, and Columbia Review.