Something was irritating my gum, more than just the Lego-like shards of my teeth. Perhaps a sprinkle from recent ice cream had found a forever home. I excused myself—no, I didn’t—I just started digging around in my mouth with my witch fingers until I found a new erratic. As I worked my tongue, knife-like qualities became apparent. My thumb and forefinger gave a yank, and painlessly a gilded fossil dragonfly emerged. Beautiful and shiny with my spit. I must have swallowed it on a run up the dock to a dive, mouth open, pushing off, taking that final gulp of air. I poured myself some whiskey—strictly as a disinfectant. As the dragonfly husk shivered in air for the first time in decades, its wings etched over with runes, serif and sans-serif. Certain this was a message for me, I found my magnifying glass, but they were just designs drawn by breezes. My companions wanted to touch the dragonfly, but it was mine. I set it on the mantel for a few minutes, but it felt too exposed. My grandmother’s jewelry box was too quiet and velvety. So I did the only logical thing: I swallowed the dragonfly but didn’t chew—in case it wants to work its way out again.
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
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’s retired
from a teaching career at Kellogg Community College.
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