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Leona Sevick

About the Poet
Leona Sevick is a faculty member in the department of English at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also serves as Associate Provost. She earned a doctorate in literature from the University of Maryland.

She is the 2012 first place winner of the Split This Rock poetry contest, and her most recent poems appear in Memoir Journal and Bateau. She lives in rural Maryland with her husband, two children, and a very old dog named Ahab.

Fall 2012 Poems »

I tried sleeping on my back the whole night, and when
I woke I thought, can I still speak pig Latin?

I made a cup of Earl Grey since the bergamot
makes me sick. I pulled on a sweater the color

of applesauce, the one with sleeves just a little too long.
I squeezed into a pair of scuffed loafers that pinched

my feet in the tenderest places below my smallest toes.
I wore no makeup but painted my nails a bright blue.

Not wanting to give up books forever, I grabbed the paper
off the counter. I picked the route with six traffic lights,

all timed wrong. I went in through the out door
and hopped into a wheelchair, rolling backwards

beside you. As the nurse took your vitals, I crouched
on the bed, gnawing the sheets. Once you were gone

I inverted myself against the wall in the waiting room,
head on the floor and feet against the paint because

people stand upright and I might have to again.



Weeks like this one make me wonder how nice

it might be to be a cow just chewing, slowly moving

my jaws in clockwise angles. Frothing green trickles

between the teeth and at the drooping corners of my

single-minded mouth, I could lie down and rest

on legs not asked to move, except to escape the winds

and stinging rain that come up from the south, sometimes.

Or maybe I’d just stand here, letting the water wash my

tough hide, brown rivers of yesterday’s dirt rolling

inevitably down into the holes I’m standing in,

thinking of nothing and no one in particular.



It was Sunday and I was tired, restless
and unsettled in the bone hard pew.
Just then, I recognized her hair,

that tangled mess of brown she’d had
as a girl, now picked through with gray. It
had been twenty years since I’d seen her last,

but when she turned her face toward me I knew
that blink of blue, that ski-jump nose. Her name
was Ruby. Like menstrual blood, the bright bold

knoll of puberty, the knife-blood red of
childhood fresh gone. Gone suddenly,
not the whisper hush of change that happens

slowly, imperceptibly, like forgiveness.

I was fifteen when my father told me what
happened to Ruby and why she moved away.
He told me driving in the car, the way he told me

everything too difficult to face. I remembered
her father, his cigar-stained hands folded
over the steering wheel while he waited

at the bus stop in the blazing heat.
There were days we’d ignored her on the
playground because she was dirty or we were

tired of pretending she was our friend.
Would we have been kinder had we known
about her father’s rough betrayals?

Here in God’s house she offered me a sign
of peace, a small smile bending her lips. Taking
her warm hand in mine, I sought forgiveness for

my trespass, for not knowing what we’d done.
Her face, blank and pale, offered nothing.
She didn’t know me from Adam.


~ Leona Sevick
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