© Cynthia Alvarez

Poetry No. 17 – Lynne McEniry

Dried Up Things
By Lynne McEniry

Millena remembered when Miranda’s son’s fell off
and the cat caught it mid-air before it hit the nursery carpet
Christine keeps her daughter’s in a zip-lock baggie
so they can admire it right there in plain view
Amanda’s is secured in a film canister, and her mother shares
their indigenous tale of connection every time they take it out to remember.
Alex said she was all grossed out when she had to pick
up her baby brother’s and throw it in the trash can.
Lauren shared the passage they read in Dwellings where Linda Hogan
made an umbilical bag to contain that first point of connection

The rest of the class listened in varying degrees
of shock and awe. Who would have thought
our Lunch Poems conversation would turn
toward this…that Frank’s Rhapsody and The Day
Lady Died would bring to us the music of the city
and Billie Holiday, who shared today’s date
as her birthday with my son, also born
April 7th, 33 years ago today. And just after
I wished Wayne a happy day first thing
this morning, my brother called to say an estranged
cousin – just about the same age
as my son – was laid out, as we spoke,
at Duchynski-Cherko and not at Flynn’s
or Sinatra’s from where the rest
of the Yonkers family’s bodies were last seen. And, did I
mention that Billie Holiday was born a Fagan,
just like my mother was…and her father…and that
my mother’s father married a Billie…and that
his mother’s name was Ella which is so close
to Ellanora, Billie Holiday’s birth name… and so
on with the connections, which brings me

back to the umbilical cord and wondering
why I found myself telling my class about
how thick and dark my daughter’s was and how
it hung on for weeks, no matter how
many times more than the doctor prescribed
I applied alcohol-soaked swabs, sobbing
and full hope that my daughter wasn’t being
punished because I was too young or
I’d smoked during those first three months…
and I wanted it to fall off…its doing so was my
focus every day…because the doctor said
it was the natural thing, necessary for
healing…for growth. And when it finally did
fall, I sobbed for days, the only physical
proof of our connection now gone
out with the trash.

Lynne McEniry has poems published or forthcoming in 5 AM, Adanna, The Stillwater Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Lake Rises Anthology, The Wide Shore, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and others. She won both Honorable Mention, and later, Second Prize, for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Lynne earned her an MFA in Poetry from Drew University and works at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ where she teaches writing and directs the Academic Success Center. She is associate editor at OVS Magazine and a regular guest editor for Adanna Literary Journal.

Art by: Cynthia Alvarez (calvarezart.com)