Kathleen Hellen is the author of the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Evergreen Review, The Massachusetts Review, North American Review, Poetry East, Witness, and elsewhere. Hellen is a recipient of the Thomas Merton prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes and featured on Poetry Daily.
“I broke them in,” is what her silence might allege, the privilege
of the elder, the one who pulled the sled. The surrogate
putting me to bed when I was left, ears erect,
panting for the answer. The one who didn’t question
everything they said, didn’t romp with needles, didn’t
fuck in dug-outs, didn’t test the thin ice of their patience.
“Baby girl,” she calls me on occasions, the truck stop miles away—
a card with singing cats or dancing candles. “Be happy,” it says,
when what she really means is “they loved you best.”