After the Ultrasound
by Ona Gritz
It stood out like the lit
silhouette of a domed building
in what was otherwise
a Polaroid of mist. Assertive
as penises are at their best
and at their very worst.
The whole ride home
on the subway, I held
the tiny photo in my palm,
my other hand on the new
rounded place that housed
this forming boy. A boy.
Before I reached my stop,
he had a name. I said it
aloud, wondering what
countless other surprises he
had in store, what ratio of
love and heartbreak lay ahead.
by Ona Gritz
Such comfort, that same
zippered sweater, slippers
he’ll toss once in the air
before untying his Keds.
From the cupboard, glitter
and crayons in a shoe box.
A project that will look like
what it is, folded paper
and pieces of tape. Restless,
my child slaps his alphabet
blocks on the table,
tears me from that calm,
that paneled room, the one man
who was ready to forgive
before I’d even made my mistakes.
by Ona Gritz
From the window I watched a neighbor girl
attempt Double Dutch. Her sisters turned
the rope, the beat like a dryer on slow spin.
Behind me stood two of everything.
Twin beds, matching oval mirrors, a pair
of gooseneck lamps looking down.
I learned to distrust sleep
having drifted so deep, I didn’t hear her
the night she moved about, gathering her things.
Ona Gritz’s second book for children, Tangerines and Tea: My
Grandparents and Me, was named Best Alphabet Book of 2005 by
Nick Jr. Family Magazine and one of six best children’s books of the
year by Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine. Her poetry has been
published in numerous anthologies and journals including Paterson
Literary Review, Moment, The American Voice, Poetry East,
Literary Mama, The Pedestal Magazine, Flashquake, Ekphrasis
(where she was a finalist for the 2004 Ekphrasis prize), and Tattoo
Highway (where she was awarded first prize in poetry in their August
2005 “Picture Worth 500 Words” contest). Gritz’s chapbook of
poems, Left Standing, was recently released by Finishing Line Press.
She is also a columnist on the Literary Mama website, and her essays
can be found in It’s A Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons and
forthcoming in O, The Oprah Magazine. Her website is located at
On “Mr. Rogers”:
I came across the poem “Barney” by Laura Kasischke and,
somehow, reading this beautifully crafted, expansive piece inspired
by that cloying purple dinosaur gave me permission to write about
a figure from children’s television I’ve always loved. I turned Mr.
Rogers’ Neighborhood on again when my son was a toddler and was
amazed to discover nothing about the program had changed. Still
no glitz or magic, just the same simple sets, costumes and homespun
puppetry. Yet it was immediately clear to me why I’d been so drawn
to it as a child. Mr. Rogers spoke to his television audience so
directly and with such honesty and respect. Not only did I see this as
a model for how children should be treated, but I found watching
his show centering for me as an adult. So much had happened in my
life, so many good and bad choices had been made. And every day,
Mr. Rogers spoke about self acceptance just as he had when I was
three years old.
On “The Summer She Ran Away”:
When I was six, my twelve-year-old sister ran away, after which she
never lived at home for any length of time. It seemed to me, my
loneliness was deeper than that of an only child, informed as it was
by having had her for the time I did. I’ve tried to revisit those
feelings in poems before, but this time I found a new distance from
which to write. It was as though I had an aerial view of my
childhood room and the girl I had been. From that perspective, I
could convey my lonesomeness without naming it.
On “After the Ultrasound”:
Like many women, I assumed that when I had a child, it would be a
girl. I pictured someone docile and sweet and completely
recognizable. When my ultrasound revealed that I was carrying a
boy, I was stunned; but before long, I felt elated. I was proud of this
child. He wasn’t even born yet, and already he had busted my
preconceptions about him. I wrote this poem to communicate both
my surprise and my wonder at all I didn’t yet know about who this
person was and what my life would be like as his mother.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 2, Number 1
Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
The Summer She Ran Away