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  • Writer's pictureLammergeier Staff

Mourning Attired | Kathleen Hellen

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

on the death of a child, 1910

Everything in pieces::


the frill bone stiff, given to restraint

A woman’s neck

vulnerable, frail as wits

The chin a rudder in the ocean of her grief, as in:

chin up, keep a stiff

upper lip

don't take your troubles to bed

the shirt a buttoned-down containment of

wasted nursing


narrow circumference

the hips that bore, bear—

the fullness of the silk

doubling back

ribbons on the panels

gored and pleated

pressed with handmade pansies

pulling her downwards


the cape in black shantung

as sanctuary, shield

shields nothing

there is no closure, no es-

cape, no hero

leaping over

the uniform of grief

the end

of occupation

Born in Tokyo, half Japanese, Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Only Country was the Color of My Skin, the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Letters and Commentary, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Gargoyle, Hawai’i Pacific Review,The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, Poetry East, Spoon River Poetry Review, and West Branch, among others. Hellen has won the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review.



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