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Issue 1: January 2020
Prose Poem: 184 words
By Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Step-kids

 

We squandered every day at the beach then walked back to the rented cottage and went to bed. We slept in little cupboards along the wall, boards thin as bad fence. Blankets heavy with Lake Michigan held us in place. In the morning, even in fog, we walked to the inlet, a pool of warm orange water. Our hair turned orange; scabs healed. We learned to eat toast before starting for the lake, problem of sand and jam. Our collections of crinoids, zebra mussels, and lightning stones grew as we rambled for the two weeks along the shore. No one ever looked for us or wondered where we’d been. We walked back at dusk, grabbed something from the kitchen table, and rolled into our cupboards. Bags of rocks became bushels of rocks and boxes of shells. It was good there was no chair; we filled the room. This cottage was white, and the inside was chalky white. I only remember the stairs and our room that could have slept six but it was just us two, waves, the foghorn, and once, the moon.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske’s
Issue 1, January 2020

first full-length book of poetry, Dominant Hand, is available from Mayapple Press, and she is co-author with artist Mary Hatch of Art Speaks: Paintings and Poetry (Kazoo Books, 2018). Other books by Kerlikowske include The Shape of Dad (a memoir in prose poems), Last Hula (winner of the 2013 Standing Rock Chapbook Competition), and Chain of Lakes.

She has been publishing her poetry and fiction for more than 20 years in such journals and magazines as Encore, Cincinnati Review, Passager, and Poemeleon, among others. Her work is anthologized in Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine Press, 2016), The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women (Shade Mountain Press, 2015), and the Michigan writers anthology published by Western Michigan University (WMU). She also creates visual art and has recently completed the Hester Prynne Chair, first of a series of literary women chairs.

Kerlikowske completed her doctorate in English at WMU in 2007. An arts activist, she has served for many years as the president of the Kalamazoo Friends of Poetry, and she is also president of the Poetry Society of Michigan. She recently retired from a teaching career at Kellogg Community College.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Artists Mary Hatch and Elizabeth Kerlikowske in KYSO Flash (Issue 9, Spring 2018); includes half a dozen of Kerlikowske’s ekphrastic prose poems and micro-fictions inspired by Hatch’s paintings

Three in Prose by Kerlikowske in DIAGRAM (Issue 5.1): “Forty Winks,” “The Girls’ Room,” and “Midway”

 
 
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