Princess Diaries No. 12: Nancy Jean

by Caleb Nichols

All the poets who don’t know it: 
my mom, when she said

                                         I found a bee, 
dead on the steps, with a full load 
of pollen on its legs, 
which made it so much

                or when she told me
that she felt her dad’s death
was the first snag of a sweater

                    or her glass jars of urchin 
shells & sea glass, the ramshackle
precision of their arrangement,

                                                     or her 
winding conversations with ravens 
and crows, & her belief 
that this is how 
the dead come back 
to have a chat,

                        or how she keeps her pantry 
stocked in a way that sings a song 
of abundance & comfort in boxes, 
cans and tins, tetris’d together 
so expertly, 

                     her carefully curated collection 
of objects displayed on the beam above the 
threshold of the kitchen — kissing dolls from 
Chinatown, ceramic salt & pepper shakers,
the tiny wooden house from Germany, 
a broken kewpie statuette 
glued together, inscribed NICKIE
the nickname her mom 
gave her dad,

                          all these loose threads 
she’s woven back into a weave, 
to staunch the creeping dark,
like any poet

Photo credit: Brian Wangenheim