Shenandoah Volume 68, Number 1
Volume 68, Number 1 · Fall 2018

Meeting House at Cill Rialaig

When you clean a place

it begins to belong to you.

Like sex, this is terrible

unless you want it.

Today I read a poet hedge

there might be no bad sex.

Who’s safe enough

to hazard that guess?

Use ash to rub smoke’s ghost

off of windows, open

both doors to let sea winds

drive breath of the dead

fire down a cliff.

Last night’s stories lasted

till morning, longer

than our piled-up turf.

Kay’s midlands summers,

her hair in paper curled

for Sunday tight enough

to hurt, her grandma

starching shirts

to put on for the pub

where only men went

after work & after shaving.

Blue balls of bleach.

There are five hundred

shades of white,

Granddad one day

stated. His wife took

the claim straight.

She gave him a different

shirt, boiled the declined

article all the next day

in a cauldron on an iron

crane over open flames.

Their stone fireplace

was like the one

we gathered at last night,

deep in drink

& safe from any man.

Kathleen Winter is the author of I will not kick my friends (2018), winner of the Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, which won the 2013 Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, New Statesman, Agni, New Republic, Cincinnati Review, and Yale Review. She was granted fellowships at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Dobie Paisano Ranch, Dora Maar House, James Merrill House, and Cill Rialaig.