Kathryn Kysar is the author of Dark Lake, a book of poetry, and editor of Riding Shotgun: Women Write About Their Mothers, a collection of essays. Her newest book of poetry Pretend the World, was published earlier this year by Holy Cow! Press. Kysar teaches at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She lives with her family in St. Paul. You can find out about her upcoming readings here.
St. Paul, 2002
At the grocery store,
the moms of Highland Park
in hastily-pulled ponytails bend
under the weight of the car seats
holding well-fed babies, struggle
to control their straying toddlers.
Stuffing bundled babies into carts,
we babble bright words, only hint
at the shadows that gather in our days:
He’s having a bit of trouble toilet training.
In the checkout line, your children whining,
her tired eyes meet yours and say,
It is not your fault.
But the baby hasn’t been bathed,
the preschooler watched TV
while, in a sleepless haze,
you stumbled around the house –
laundry, breakfast, wastebaskets,
mail, phone calls, laundry –
unable to focus, prioritize.
The eyes of the grocery store manager
skip over your unwashed hair, your
postpartem body. You are invisible;
you are a checkbook, a credit card,
the major household shopper.
Sometimes, when you do get a chance
to catch the sleep that eludes you,
you think in the dark about
the untidy house, the weeds in the garden,
the fallen flowers crushed by last night’s rain.
All the faults in this little world are yours,
the foundation cracking under the weight of the house,
the weight of the family, the weight you cannot carry.
– “Faultlines” by Kathryn Kysar, as it appears in her collection of poetry Pretend The World, published by Holy Cow! Press. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher.