Karin Gottshall

Departure

Put my ashes in a cookie tin from Canada.
My epitaph: her life was a series of stubbed toes
and tiger cats, the wind fooling around

under her skirt. Moments I was proud
to be human, like seeing a hopscotch course
a full block long. Before I go I will have to gather

my patience: I left it in the fallout
shelter of my grade school during a drill,
adding up the civil defense rations. I could never

make the totals come out right—there was not enough
Kotex for us all to reach adolescence
in the event of nuclear winter. The part of my brain

still occupied with a stranger’s unkindness
at the Museum of Wicker will wink out.
Crying between streetlamps. My own name.

Many mornings I’ve waited a long time
for coffee, queued up with a dozen fidgeting
commuters, all their nervous little phones, thinking

I need this, I need this. I think of the Rapture
when I pull up my socks. I surprise myself,
sometimes, by stepping out of line and slipping away.

Karin Gottshall lives in Vermont and teaches at Middlebury College. She is the author of Crocus (Fordham University Press, 2007) and several chapbooks. Her new book, The River Won’t Hold You, is the winner of The OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize for Poetry and is forthcoming from The Ohio State University Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, FIELD, The Gettysburg Review, and many other journals.
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