Kelle Groom


He walked into the lake
as if it were grass,
to float a second in its light,
be a place.
The cypress trees up to their knees in water,
coiled ladders
reading the necklace of his DNA.
        High sky, a canoe
figuring the circumference,
underneath the hull
wavery with smudges, musicians’ black coats.


Black cautionary tale of eighth grade:
another boy
shooting up, withdrawing
his vein with the needle,
        tugging it out –
a magician’s red scarves.


He talked to the dark like an orchestra pit,
        ceiling of black net,
light below:
                    an underwater city,
a place to steady down the trains,
the constant passing by,
the pots of coffee drunk, something winglike
panicking inside.
        I waited for his hand,
the tight instruction of his thumb,
invisible birds on his lips—
        fluttering, a blur like sleep,
        water swimming away.
(from Underwater City, University Press of Florida, 2004)


Kelle Groom is the author of a memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster 2011), a Barnes & Noble Discover selection, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and a Library Journal Best Memoir. Her four poetry collections include Spill, forthcoming from Anhinga Press (October 2017), Five Kingdoms (Anhinga, 2010), Luckily (Anhinga, 2006), and Underwater City (University Press of Florida, 2004). A 2014 NEA Fellow, her work has appeared in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Groom’s honors also include fellowships from Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Library of Congress, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and James Merrill House, among others. She is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, and is Director of the Summer Workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.