The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Meet Me at the Bottom by Kathleen Hellen

This selection, chosen by Guest Leslie Rzeznik, is from Meet Me at the Bottom by Kathleen Hellen, released by Main Street Rag Press in 2022.

banality of a wall

Heavy cinder set at the perimeter, cemented, stacked along the length that separates the parcel from the parcel that separates my neighbor from myself, separates the pale blue of the sunrise from salmon-colored sunset, the domicile from difference. Who lives beside me I can’t guess. One day the “under contract” sign was gone, and cars appeared, though weeds and grasses are the same, the same ivy overhangs, the same unruly hedge and vines of the forsythia disrespectful of the boundary, the mutual roots loosing tendrils like the hair of mute rapunzels from the towers of their trunks, bending toward the narrative of rescue, bending toward the light that’s shared like burden of the leaves that fall in litters, the nuts that gift the squirrels, the gift of strangers, neighbors I’ve not met, the blocks like barricade, or like retaining—topped with little plinths, some chipped, some broken, fissured by the protest of the wind, darkened by the heavy rains, aproned with a subtle fungus.

Kathleen Hellen’s latest collection is Meet Me at the Bottom from Main Street Rag Publishing Co. Her credits include The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin, the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, her work has appeared in Arts & Letters, Cimarron Review, New Letters, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Hellen’s awards include the Thomas Merton prize for Poetry of the Sacred and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, as well as awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

Leslie Rzeznik lives in southeast Michigan. She earned her BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and won The Academy of American Poets prize in 2013. Her work has appeared in AlyssBone BouquetSling Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and Bear River Review.

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