by Athena Kildegaard

We ate tumbleweed in brine after the government men
shot the cow.  Dust pushed the fences under.

Whole days went by with no light.  We learned to sit
with our eyes closed, to breathe through sponges, when

we had them, otherwise pillowcases folded and wet.
I could trace dreams in the dust: daisies or apples

or rocket ships.  Not for girls mama said.  A rocket
wouldn’t be fast enough.  Snakes twisted belly up

on the barbed wire.  I used to stand by the front door
and count how many steps to any grove of trees,

any hill, any river you could escape to.  Now I’d settle
for calm.  I want to tear those black sheets down.

by Athena Kildegaard

Say corset
and think salt,
as if Lot’s wife
were hourglass
or firmament
heaving into view,
think flesh
in fullness
bent to purpose,
warped past
think grandmothers
bent over pecks
of string beans
and peaches,
how they sweat
and speak
no word
of complaint.


Athena Kildegaard is the author of four books of poetry,
most recently
Ventriloquy from Tinderbox Editions.  A new
book of poems is forthcoming from Tinderbox in early 2018.  
Her poems have appeared in the
Alaska Quarterly Review,
Valparaiso Poetry Review, Water~Stone, Poetry Northwest,
and elsewhere.  Kildegaard teaches at the University of
Minnesota, Morris, and is the poetry features editor at

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 12, Number 2
(Fall 2017)

Copyright © 2017
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.