By Karen Kelsay


Alone on the playground’s edge,
surrounded by a troupe of invisible ballerinas
who transform her frayed skirt into a flash of tulle

while others play foursquare and hopscotch
on the blacktop, she exercises her superpowers
by blocking out thoughts of her mother’s demons.

At night she crawls into bed, waking up alone
in the house at midnight—but nothing frightens her.
A swift cat scratch across her cheek imparts

no sting, she can hold back a decade of tears
with a single squint. Neighborhood children
never hear the words

that wrestle within her head, and even adults
struggle to see evidence of the mother’s love
her x-ray vision barely captures.

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Karen Kelsay, native of Orange County, has been widely published over the past five years in poetry journals and anthologies. She is the founder and editor of Kelsay Books. Her poetry has been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She recently received the Fluvanna Prize (2012) from The Lyric , and has been featured in The New Formalist , spotlighted in The Hypertexts, recently interviewed at The Poet’s Corner with Russell Bittner and at A Motley Vision (an award winning blog devoted to exploring Mormon literature, criticism, publishing and marketing — plus film, theater, art, music, and pop and folk culture). Her full length book, Amytis Leaves Her Garden was published by White Violet press in 2012. She is the editor of the online poetry and art journal, Victorian Violet Press and lives in Torrance, California with her British husband and two cats.

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