Two poems by Rebecca Kokitus


my mother tells me that a wife cleaves
to her husband, whatever that means

I hear cleave and think cleaver
imagine a severing through
meat and bone

but “cleave” has two definitions—
it’s the opposite of itself.

to cleave is also
to stick like moth in spider web, drown
like fly in honey and to marry
is to pretend this is a choice,
according to my mother.

my father’s ashes stir like dust disturbed
cleaved from her like her own flesh,
cleaved to her like phantom limb.


on shady lane

I blame my bad mood on the rain and
my mother blames the rain on my father

when the men tore the front porch off our house
leaving nothing but concrete stoop
and the tiny bugs like red lint crawling
one of them needed eighteen stitches in his hand
my mother blames my father for that too

this place, so heartbreakingly his
his handwriting on cardboard boxes
all over the house

my mother says “I won’t be one of those women
who keeps their husband’s things forever”

I say nothing, stare blankly out the car window
at the red sign, replaced for the second time now
“Shady Lane”

I say “I see we have a street sign again”

my father never liked the old sign
with our last name in big block letters
it seemed too personal

now nameless maple shade
homestead turned grave

this place and its human smells
the bridal veil bush that smells like
unwashed flesh, like Dad when he
was too depressed to shower

and the stagnant river scent—
I’ve always been told to stay away
from that water, but Mother,
that water is in my blood.

Rebecca Kokitus is a part time resident of Media, PA just outside Philadelphia, and a part time resident of a small town in rural Schuylkill County, PA. She is an aspiring poet and is currently an undergraduate in the writing program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She has recent work in Moonchild Magazine, Rising Phoenix Review, and Rhythm & Bones, among other places. She tweets at @rxbxcca_anna.

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