1. Great-grandmama sailed in on a ship from Ireland,
planted orchids and daylilies by hand, eventually moved on
to bringing in onions from the garden, slid their pearled bodies
beneath great-grandpapa’s pillow, strung them
from the ceiling like tender chandeliers
until there was nothing left
in that house but tears.
Survived the famine only to watch her brother die
by tumor, cell after cell gone to memory.
2. Grandmama sewed mile upon mile of quilts,
their patches ghazal and hurricane all in one
to keep the down beds warm whenever her sons stayed overnight.
When Grandpapa had his aneurysm she tucked one
round his feet, that great ruby stain pulsing
again and again inside his stomach
like a compass needle turned the wrong way.
3. Inside the womb, when we
were just tiny origami limbs made of skin
folding ourselves into something only a mother could love,
we learned more than we wanted to about loss.
The fourth child died.
Grief pulled out Mama’s spine and left her bedridden.
4. When I was a kid, I swore I saw ghosts. The rippling of
without anyone in it, footprints climbing the stairs like piano
I found the fourth child’s hair in my bed, her breath
evaporating from my mirrors,
Uncle poised in the doorway, a pause,
back half of his brain still missing
Grandpapa reading in the armchair with a lit cigarette.
5. Just before Grandmama passed
I leaned down to her ear so she could whisper
how glad she was that I was adjusting so well
to the afterlife.
After The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
We were the ones who readied the stones for her arrival.
It was done with love, we must never forget that.
It was blood magic;
her mother had gone before her, howling.
Like Jezebel into the pit of dogs.
Birds migrating across the sky above us,
moon blooming as an onion.
We must remind ourselves
that this is what she wanted.
To be given back to the earth,
spine arched like thread,
Begging for it, as we gathered and threw,
gathered and threw.
When it was all over, there was nothing
still girl about her.
Just an endless line of horizon
we could not bring ourselves to face.
When I Was Prey
Today Oskar Groning is on trial.
The bookkeeper of Auschwitz.
There was something beautiful about my baptism
all those years ago, water streaming from my gills,
ruby throat opened to the world like a tulip.
They said it was not supposed to hurt,
like my friend’s face cracking at the news
that Groning watched a guard smash a child
against the side of a truck
until the light fled from its eyes.
Language gives caves a mouth, bells tongues,
Who was it that did not give Groning a heart?
This God whose water I was birthed in,
sky above me dark as blood.
Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest
who is currently majoring in Psychology at Macalester College.
Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine,
Winter Tangerine Review, Electric Cereal, and more. In March
2013 she won a National Gold Medal for her poetry collection and
a National Silver Medal for her writing portfolio in the 2013
National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her work can be found