The Shedding Before the Swell | Kara Knickerbocker

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Kara Knickerbocker is an internationally published writer and world traveler from Saegertown, Pennsylvania and the author of the chapbooks The Shedding Before the Swell (Dancing Girl Press, 2018) and Next to Everything that is Breakable ( Finishing Line Press, 2017).  Her poetry and essays appeared in or are forthcoming from:Longridge Review, Coldnoon, The Laurel Review and the anthology Voices from the Attic, Vol. XXII, among others. Knickerbocker currently lives in Pittsburgh, where she works at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University and co-curates the MadFridays Reading Series. You can find more of her at



Notes on Shadows

I think of mid-July sun,
tracing with blue sidewalk chalk
lying on cool grass
underneath apple blossoms
in the backyard.

I didn’t think you,
sunken into a hospital bed
oceans between us.
The island of your body,
shrinking fast like the view of Singapore
from my airplane window seat.

The lights fade out
into deep velvet night with
your last breath of air.
Did you know, then?
Or was time still too far to touch?
I should have been there.

I could have filled the spaces
between your knuckled fingers
before they lost warmth,
just out of reach in the darkness.
Now Grandma is your shadow,
trapped in between—

She moves through the halls,
slow, silent—
trying to remember
what the light felt like.