JENNIFER L.
FREED

Jennifer L. Freed (she/her) is author of the chapbook, These Hands Still Holding  (Finishing Line, 2014), a finalist in the New Women's Voices contest.  Her work appears in Atlanta Review, Atticus Review,  Worcester Review, West Trestle Review, Zone 3, and others.  Awards  include the 2020 Samuel Washington Allen Prize from the New England Poetry Club for the poem sequence "Cerebral Hemorrhage." Those poems, as well as the poems in this issue of Subnivean, are part of a full  length manuscript forthcoming from Kelsay books in 2022.

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STILL

They are so small—

the tender boniness beneath their fluff, like magic

in our hands. We collect them, after

the popped balloons, the cake,

the tear of wrapping paper,

but their warm purrs pour through our fingers too soon,

so we decide to keep them all

in one soft gathering, inside

the old humidor.

We are taking turns

with the curving latch, its pleasing little click,

when the mothers come, and the party ends,

and the friends leave in a bustle of last laughing chatter,

and then it is only my mother and me, singing

as we clean up crumbs and paper cups.

And then she asks,

Where are the kittens, and I remember,

and I go to the cabinet,

and open it.

MY FATHER'S HEART

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REHAB HOSPITAL

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FROM INSIDE ASKEW

          you don’t know

how you slant.

 

Your speech slips and circles.

Angles seem straight.

 

You’re sure left is right,

sure we are all wrong,

 

don’t feel yourself sliding,

don’t see yourself fall.

 

But there you are—down on the floor,

making light of the pain in your head.

 

We offer our arms.

You weep, ask why.

DIRECTION

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STROKE

My mother is gone.

A similar sister lives

in her body.

 

I keep leaning closer,

toward all that she shares

with my mother.

 

I keep leaning closer.

 

I want to believe I am wrong.

 

But the questions

this woman doesn’t

feel.

The answers

this woman doesn’t know

how to hear.

The way this woman’s face

moves over the bones and hollows

of my mother’s skull.