The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller, released by Two Sylvias Press in 2021.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

after Johannes Vermeer, oil on canvas, c.1663

*

It was mid-afternoon when I arrived in Amsterdam. The flight from California fueled a headache I couldn’t shake. I checked into my hotel room, hoping a hot shower would restore me. I was slipping on my robe when I noticed the blinking red light on the room’s phone: a message from my mother to call home. Her voice was low, a strange mixture of indecision and sadness. She spoke slowly as though lowering an anchor; there had been an accident. Tommy, close as a brother, was dead: a drunk driver crossed the divider, hit him head-on, the engine in his lap. I don’t remember telling her goodbye, hanging up the phone, or getting dressed, but I rode the elevator down and walked the stone-paved streets, shellshocked under a turquoise sky.

**

At the Rijksmuseum, whose rib-vaulted portico reminded me of a Gothic crypt, bicycles sped through the passageway before I entered. Upstairs, Vermeer had a room of his own. I stepped off the hardwood floor and sank deep into blue carpet. She was on the damask wall next to The Milkmaid, illuminated by skylight glow—so small, she could fit in my suitcase. But I didn’t care about the light or the colors. I didn’t care about the woman or the news in her letter. It was the map hanging behind her. The one detail that had seemed incidental before was all I could focus on now—all those meandering lines leading to and away from home.


Kelly Cressio-Moeller is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net, and have appeared widely in journals and at literary websites including Gargoyle, North American Review, Poet Lore, Salamander, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Water~Stone Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others. An associate editor at Glass Lyre Press, she lives in the Bay Area. Shade of Blue Trees from Two Sylvias Press (Finalist for the Wilder Prize) is her first poetry collection.

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 jordialonsopoet.com

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