Keeping Warm

By Faith Shearin
Feature image: Seated Woman with Legs Drawn Up (Adele Herms), 1917 by Egon Schiele

That first winter after you vanished
into the white rafters

of the afterlife the old boyfriends returned
in texts and letters, one close enough

to walk with me beside a fast river
in the snow; these were the men I loved

when I was young and now I was alone
so they came looking for me or I

called out with a sound between
a howl and a bark and they replied;

I wasn’t sure what I wanted
from them, or what they

wanted from me, but I was grateful
for their attention and for the way

they could still remember me standing
in the corridors of the past,

under apple blossoms, where
they spoke to me in whispers and

unfastened my loneliness; I was trying to learn
how to be a woman without you.

One reminded me of how he undressed me
under a Steinway piano during a power outage;

that February the ones who were single
sent music and texts and they worried

I was not warm; one spoke of building
fires and making tea while another

ascended the steep staircase
to my apartment and placed his hand

on my radiator which was like running
a finger over my wrist; I felt sometimes

that you sent them, though you
had been jealous when you were alive,

that you wanted them to buy me
mittens, to put the kettle on the stove.


Faith Shearin’s most recent book of poetry, Lost Language, was published by Press 53 in 2020. Her previous books include: The Owl Question (May Swenson Award), Moving the Piano, Telling the Bees, Orpheus, Turning (Dogfish Poetry Prize), and Darwin’s Daughter. She has received awards from Yaddo, The NEA, and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Recent work has been read on The Writer’s Almanac and included in American Life in Poetry.

Websites: Press53.com / faithshearin.com

Feature image: Collection of Prints and Drawings. Courtesy National Gallery in Prague

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