Three Poems by Heidi Holliday St. Jean ’88

Heidi St. Jean received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Poetry from Fairfield University, where she was selected as the recipient of its 2013 Academic Achievement Award for the M.F.A. program. She was poetry editor of Theodate, an online poetry journal. She also previously worked as managing editor for the literary journal Drunken Boat, and was one of two poetry editors for Mason’s Road. Her poetry and essays have published or are forthcoming in Spry; Rock & Sling; Afterimage: Inklight; The Lyon Review; The Barefoot Review; Long River Run; Mason’s Road and Theodate. Her ekphrastic poem, “The Lawrence Tree,” was selected as Third Prize winner in the 2013 Al Savard Memorial Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Connecticut Poetry Society. (The judge was Russell Strauss, past president of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.) Her poem, “Surrealistic Dream of the Synesthete,” won Honorable Mention in the Maine Media Workshop and College contest, displaying in Maine Media Gallery’s “Dreams” exhibit during Spring 2014. She works professionally as a writer and editor.

Last Drive Home
They lined the streets when we last drove you home.
Bone-straight, these black bird mourners gathered,
silent sentinels, witness to our sadness –
standing all the way from here to Maine,
the bond remained unbroken.

Crow after crow after crow
held their posts on the side of the highway,
blessed us from the side of the back road,
directed us along the side of the driveway.
Each one held up the casket corners
of our grief, each wing pall bearing a small bit
of the weight of your leaving.

Gray Lady of Grief
The Gray Lady of Grief
descends like a mist,
then enfolds me
in her weighted,
woolen cloak,
covers my dilated eyes
with her unrelenting

She pulls me close – then spins
me circling, reeling
dizzy with disbelief –
she fills my open mouth
with threads of stone.

She sews
my empty chest solid,
weaves her bleak cocoon
between each rib,
pulls taut and knots
each corseting line
with a back-stitched bead
of bone.

Her idea of comfort –
a toy cat, stuffed
with shards of
memory, mirrored
mercury painted glass,
unforgivably broken.

Here, hold this close.

She gives of herself,
mothering caress, winter’s
Midas touch, turning
burning everything
to cold.

I would break each of her glass fingers
if I could.

Last Note
When the last breath comes –
when that thin bow of air pulls
its final, sorrowing note
against the strings in
your ravaged throat,
I still expect that moment
to sing – linger,
hover in air
with audience hushed,
in awe at music riven alive.

What I don’t expect
is the sudden roaring
of silence, as startling
as if the audience
had just erupted
in empty
and unknowing

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About Sandi Sonnenfeld

Sandi Sonnenfeld is a fiction writer and essayist. Her memoir, This Is How I Speak (2002: Impassio Press), which recounts how her views about what it means to be a woman in contemporary America changed after suffering a dangerous sexual assault, was a Booksense 76 finalist. With the memoir’s publication, she was named a 2002 Celebration Author by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, which recognizes writers whose work merits special notice. Sandi has published more than two-dozen short stories and essays in Sojourner, Voices West, Hayden’s Ferry Review, ACM, Raven Chronicles, Necessary Fiction, Perigee, Revolution House and The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review among others. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sandi holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Washington, where she won the Loren D. Milliman Writing Fellowship. She currently resides in New York's glorious Hudson Valley with her husband and the two of the world's most playful cats.

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