There Was a Door by Leatha Kendrick


“There Was a Door” by Leatha Kendrick


There was a door and her hand

on its lever.  In too many clothes –

her coat’s wide cape collar,

her high button shoes, a bonnet

heavy and huge whose beruffled

lining frames a thin face.         Enough to smother a watcher.


For more than a century

she’s stood, not going through.

Was she leaving or coming home?

Time has carried her cheekbones

into our Susie. Susie running

morning and evening,

as soon as she stood up to walk, she was

running.                       I cannot imagine her


stopped so long in a doorway

in a browned bonnet, feet stilled

and buttoned, though the lattice

my grandmother stands at is the same

lattice on Susie’s gate in Virginia.

Who made this photo? Maybe the door

isn’t a door, though the ground’s gritted

as if she were leaving                          a garden.


What do I have to say today?

Only Oh and Oh and Oh

let me cross my own boundary

open the door –


or shut it if that’s what it takes

to keep the dark out a while.

Only a while, long enough


to open light’s letter, to read

the familial hand that is my hand

open to draw me into the courtyard

out to the road.


There was a door to the river

I never lived beside – a door

on its changing shoreline, its shining.

My hand on the lever.



Previously published in her 2020 book, And Luckier


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Leatha Kendrick Artist Statement:

I am the author of four books of poetry, the latest, Almanac of the Invisible, from Larkspur Press. My essays, poems, and fiction appear widely in journals and anthologies, including The Baltimore Review, The Southern Women’s Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume III: What Comes Down to Us – Twenty-Five Contemporary Kentucky Poets; and I to I: Life Writing by Kentucky Feminists. I was honored in 2013 by the Kentucky Foundation for Women with the Sallie Bingham Award. I lead workshops at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky.

Author: A Room of Her Own

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