--Canterbury Shaker Village, NH
I came here the day we buried Mother.
Silent. My face stiff and white. I took
my seat in the back row beside strangers
and tried to hide behind the taller boys.
I did not answer any teacher’s call.
But Sister Anne stayed after and made me
wash my face and hands, comb my hair,
lifted my chin and looked into my eyes.
You will live, dear. You will be loved.
You will learn. Yes, remember. But look—
there is the future. Your mother wished
for you to grow into the light.
Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.