The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios, released by Word Poetry in 2021.

Vanishing Acts


when I      	disappeared
the neighborhood did not gather
to look for me
they did not drag the river  
they did not dig under the lush camellia 
they did not 	   look 	   in the oven 
where I left a clue 
	of salt and bone ash  

I wasn't 	in the bird cage 
lying next   to   my yellow canary 
nor was           I entombed 
with the summer's jarred
peaches on shelves in the garage 

I	wasn't      under        the sink 
in the little Dutch girl's
blue dress	 wasn't 
in the Morton maid's
trail of salt


Where am I now, Mother?
Do I live in the           dint 
between your	     forefinger         
and         thumb?

Like a ruined town
I've burned my name off your map
nailed my carcass 
to your tree           mother  
where the wind rings 
through me

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios is professor emerita from American University in Washington DC, having chaired the vocal and music departments. Featured in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 challenge, she has been published in such journals as Clementine, American Journal of Poetry, Cumberland River Review, The Feminine Collective, The Kentucky Review, Into the Void, Unsplendid, Edison Literary Review, and Passager. Her chapbook Special Delivery, prize winner with Yellow Chair Press, was published in 2016, and her second chapbook released in April 2021, Empty the Ocean with a Thimble, by Word Tech Communications. As the artistic director of the Redwoods Opera in Mendocino, California, she has influenced and trained vocal students across the country.

Jordi Alonso holds degrees in English literature from Kenyon College (AB ’14) Stony Brook University (MFA ’16) and the University of Missouri (PhD ’21). He is currently a Classical Studies MA student at Columbia University. Honeyvoiced, his first book, was published by XOXOX Press in 2014 and his chapbook, The Lovers’ Phrasebook, was published by Red Flag Poetry Press in 2017. His work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Banyan Review, Levure Littéraire, and other journals. Follow him on Twitter @nymphscholar or get to know his work at


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