Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

[Two Poems]

by Karen Stromberg


After I die
take my good right arm
the one that held the pen,
the one that signed the adoption papers,
the one that rose in court
and swore I would love you as my own.

Select a forearm bone—
the ulna with its elegant curve
or the straight forward radius.
Break it until it fits
our cast iron pot
where we steamed all that rice.
Simmer it in the juice of my blood
until the fatty marrow
grows soft and succulent.

Suck these bones dry, and do
what I could not do for you—
let me become the blood of your blood,
the marrow of your marrow. Carry me
into the next generation.



Our Birth Mother

After she was out of prison,
she came to visit.
You hardly remembered her,
hid when she came through the door.
“I could eat you up,” she said,
dropping to her knees,
her arms held wide.
“I could hug you to pieces,” she said,
pulling you into her arms.

“I just love you to death,”
she murmured, rocking you on her lap,
as you stared solemnly out the window.

When you got a little older
you learned she didn’t mean it literally;
when you grew up,
you learned she did.

—Previously published in Walking with Ducks (Caernarvon Press, San Diego, 2001); republished here by author’s permission

SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

Karen Stromberg

was a frequent student in Steve Kowit’s readings, workshops, and classes. She liked it when he lost his patience and said, “Every line has to be perfect. Every single line!”

Karen holds an MA in Creative Writing: Fiction from San Diego State University. She writes short fiction, poetry, and senryu. Much of her work is available online. Her short story “The Last Man on Earth” is included in The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women (Shade Mountain Press, October 2015).

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury