Pick-a-Poem: Antonina Palisano


Hello, blog readers, and welcome to another Pick-a-Poem Wednesday! If you’re looking for some new poetry to check out, then you’ve come to the right place. Each week we feature a poem from Poetry Daily, which is a great site that profiles a new poet each day. So if you’re looking for something even more frequent than our weekly posts here, definitely check out their website. This week we are featuring a poem called The Girls Are Sleeping, which is written by Antonina Palisano.

According to her bio page on the Poetry Daily website, Antonina Palisano “is the 2013 recipient of the Sandol Milliken Stoddard Award and was recently named a finalist for the Amherst Writers & Artists Pat Schneider Poetry Contest. Her research interests include death culture, hagiography, and Victorian medicine. She is currently at work on a poetry manuscript about George Mallory’s 1924 ascent of Mount Everest, and will begin an MFA in Poetry at Boston University in the fall of 2014.”

The Girls Are Sleeping, by Antonina Palisano

       in memory of Adeliza Pomeroy


I feel a jerk beneath my chest
as if a big finger were hooked
on my bottommost rib, and in that moment
I’m standing at the sink, scouring pans.
I’m scrubbing like I did
before Em coughed her last. Emily stood
to my left, against the sideboard
and dried the dishes. I’m scrubbing
in circles like Mamma said, and I can breathe
all the way to the gutter of my lungs. I can breathe in
and feel it sweet and blue in every corner,
down to the little toes and the lobes of my ears.
I turn to the left
and Em has got a dishrag and stands
so tall that I know I’m ten again,
and my sister’s seventeen. Em was seventeen
the day her eyes rolled in her head.
But here she is, flicking her rag
at my backside, eyes forward
and alight. “Liza,”
she says, “hurry with that pan
or we’ll be late for the sing at Jed’s.”
And the kitchen door is open
and I see the bleeding sun
of high summer. I see the meadow flaring out
and coming up the steps to find us.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem. For more of these posts from us, click here!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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