Drinking egg creams, eating malt balls,
she was solid Swedish stock—an athlete
for the ages with a steak in her mouth,
iron pills sized for cattle in her pockets.
She called herself apprentice to the Protestant
work horses, but only our mother
cleaned other people’s houses. My brother
and I were on floating stones, our corn-fed
hearts bloomed red. We missed our mother,
whose mind was overdrawn and bloodless.
Linda followed us around with the phone
in her hands, backpedaled toward the after party,
fed carrots to out-of-towners. Winters
she was in the sunroom, shrink-wrapping
jellied fruit for her holiday displays.
She held her long hair back from the water
in her teacup, said to turn the heat up in the storm.
Kirsten Andersen’s poems have appeared in The Believer, Tin House, Alaska Quarterly Review, Canteen Magazine, and elsewhere. She is a former Wallace Stegner fellow and a recipient of a winter fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her 2016 chapbook Family Court was published by Q Ave Press.
“My Father’s Second Wife” appeared in TLR Uncle