Family Matter by Ellen Stone


The blizzard comes, silent, crowded
like church when everyone stands up
or the graveyard if I imagine all the bones
under the ground. It sweeps over the hill
when the wind stirs, a solemn march,
blocking out the sky. Those words
persistent, relentless, undaunted
hang in the air while it covers,
fills in all the edges, the gap
from gully to field edge. My father
loves snow. But, he doesn’t believe
in transformation. When it is over,
we build houses in the ditches
on the side of the roadsnow crests
as deep as tall peaks of waves off
the dark Atlantic. Dad keeps quiet.
You can tell it matters to him, though.
Us inviting him to these nests we’ve
created out of nothing but accumulated
crystals, bits of air and water.


My mother believes her lies. They
sink into me exactly like a flat stone,
something I cannot swallow. Truth
is fear landing where it can, deep
inside. I know the consequences,
can see the outcome. One summer,
she told me she was pregnant. Mom
was in her late fifties, living in East
Boston, not that far from Santarpio’s
Pizza and Logan Airport. Streets of
triple-deckers crowded together,
squeezing out trees, nothing growing.
Mom said the father was a Boston
Red Sox player. The funny thing is
in all those years of visiting her
in Winthrop, then in East Boston,
we’d never gone to Fenway. First,
I know she is going crazy again.
But, second, I wonder if she just
wants to go to a ball game.

Ellen Stone finally left high school—and retired. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan so she can pretend she is going to college (again) for the rest of her life. Ellen’s poems have appeared recently in Passages North, The Collagist, The Museum of Americana, and Fifth Wednesday. She is the author of The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Ellen’s poetry has been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart prize and Best of the Net.


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