Issue > Poetry
Gardner McFall

Gardner McFall

Gardner McFall is the author of The Pilot's Daughter and Russian Tortoise (poems), two children's books, and the libretto Amelia, commissioned by the Seattle Opera and published by the University of Washington Press. She lives in New York City.

The Homecoming: After Kiki Smith

There's always a wolf in the bed,
the door opening slowly,
the girl's face etched strangely like a woman's
or the woman she will become,
her foot poised at the sill,
a basket about to be set down,
and the not quite Steiff-like creature,
pretty eyes, soft fur, lolling tongue,
so comfy under the covers,
so much at home,
you'd hate to turn him out.
You'd hate not to deliver the goodies.
You are, after all, a good girl.
What would your mother say?


After she died, I started becoming a version of her.
I bought a camel checked suit with a jeweled neckline.
From the sideboard, I took my tea service, polishing it,
a deadening task to a mirror shine. My linen closet,
filled with her sheets, I scented with French milled soap.

Oh, sweet and bright the house was, and I the daughter
she'd like to see, having combed my hair well
out of my face, minus the bow, but, of course,
she never arrived. So I sat, I lived with my sterling
grief, until I could find her there already inside.


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