Prim in my proper dress, I sat
seventh period, red-lining Latin roots:
amo-amiable, rex-regalia. The November sun
blanched the library’s tomes as Lincolnesque
Mr. Stollmeyer listed in, pale as parchment.
The president has been shot, he said.
We fingered our mouths as if testing
for breath How will we tell our students?
It was the feast of St. Cecelia, patroness
of music, pewter harp in hand. Forced
to marry, she remained a virgin, converted
Valerian. Unwilling to worship Roman idols
she was thrown into a vat of boiling oil
for burying bodies of believers rather than
let the vultures peck out their souls
dice their livers like dreck. Unlike Jack,
she escaped unscathed, sweet notes floating
from her throat like swallows. I wonder if
the witty, handsome Jack could sing, recite
his Latin declensions, say his evening prayers. Once,
playing chicken, he cycled headlong into his brother
Joe, flew into the air, floated-until the whoosh,
the blow to the head, sharp, surprising and painful.
Relax, he told himself, twenty-eight stitches woven
into his shock of wheat-colored hair. Too late for stitches
now. His father told him he had the goods. My mother
always said, No good comes to those who warm their hearth
by peddlin’ poteen. The siren of the fire engine
roaring by muffled the message on the loudspeaker.
Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for both the Robert McGovern Prize, Ashville University, and a Pushcart has been published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street. An eight-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She won The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011 and the same prize for fiction, 2015. She has received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Martha’s Vineyard.