Solitary Prism by Kathleen Hellen


“Solitary Prism” by Kathleen Hellen

                                  —at the House of Inscriptions, Little Moreton Hall, Aug. 3, 1649
in this custom of the bride—a girl    The beautiful gardens
encircling    The trefoils and the quatrefoils as
rings inside of rings    The long gallery where the Queen herself had danced
The magnificent bay    where panes were scored    on upper-storey windows
The “a” looks like an “o”
As though her hand had wavered at the window    A girl
no more than fourteen, with skills to read    A girl
served up like tea in curtained rooms to the avuncular
To games of noughts and crosses
gambled    Who she was before she
signed as Margaret, Mrs., as daughter of the house was still unsure::
man can noe more know,
womens mynds by tears, than by her
shadow judge what clothes shee weares
As though the diamond she had used was
ballast    weight
The scratch on glass    less autograph



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Kathleen Hellen’s Artist Statement: The hand that scratched this note on glass was probably a woman’s—perhaps the daughter of the house—and I took it as a message in a bottle cast into the sea, all messages eventually finding their intended recipients.

Poet, educator and former journalist, Kathleen Hellen is the author of the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Her poems are widely published and have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Nation, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Daily, the Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She has served as senior poetry editor for the Baltimore Review and now sits on the editorial board of Washington Writers’ Publishing House. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she teaches creative writing in Baltimore.


Author: A Room of Her Own

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