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Teresa Sutton


Teresa Sutton lives in Patterson, NY. She has three published chapbooks: They’re Gone, Ossory Wolves, and Breaking Newton Laws, which won first place in the 2017 Encircle Publications Chapbook Competition. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.




Grief is the breath I drew in so deeply
I’ve never been able to expel it fully,
to force it to get out, not even
to keep bits from leaking
onto my children each time
I tried to recreate the stable home
for them that my mother managed
to do for us during the Cold War
as a card carrying member
of the sweater set.


Crimson lipstick always refreshed,
nylons with their seams
straight in the back,
my mom would vacuum the living
room and whip up casseroles
in kitten high heels,
never spilling anything on us.
Even when autumn leaves
transformed into black birds
casting a shadow on the house,
she would pull the shades
and flood the rooms
with the glow of candles.


When both of my brothers died,
I saw those birds steal her bones
one by one until the sack of her skin
was heaped on the floor.
I fell down next her,
neither of us able to lift our heads.


No matter how many extra soaps,
bandages, toothpastes I jammed
into plastic bins and stuffed
into closets and under beds,
I always needed to head to the store,
my unbuttoned coat flapping,
when small disasters struck.
Mom would have had a poster board
hidden somewhere for homework
emergencies. Mom’s bones
would have grown back stronger
and she would have found a way
to shove grief aside,
to keep us clean.
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