Retreat by Heather McGrew


I carried my child six full months before
my husband started talking to walls, chairs, an open
refrigerator. Peeking in as if to choose
pickles or cheese for a sandwich, he spoke
into that fridge, said watchers’ eyes lingered
there wide and unblinking. He’d say,
Go away, again and again, slamming the door
and shoving two fists into his eye sockets,
hollow and dark.


Swollen around the middle
with life’s flesh and fluid, I scrubbed
dishes, stuffed turkeys, vacuumed
carpets, and felt my middle shrink and quiet
until ultrasound searched long for the faintest
heartbeat, until no hand against this smooth belly
could chance upon the other side of a kick.

Heather McGrew has been an instructor of writing at the University of
Wisconsin-Superior for twelve years. She also formerly served as a
copy editor for New Moon Magazine for Girls in Duluth, Minnesota, and
as a first reader for The Spoon River Poetry Review. In addition, she
was the recipient of the Tom Kuster Creative Writing Award for poetry
while doing graduate work at Illinois State University. Her work has
previously appeared in such publications as The Coeval (Bethel
University), Out of Words (College of Saint Scholastica), and The
Nemadji Review (University of Wisconsin-Superior).

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