Karin Gottshall


Her books, her plants, her ancient cat.
Her dream journals, her sweet tooth, her Versa.

Her childhood tap shoes. Expired meds.
Four hundred dollars in dimes (they broke

the CoinStar). An antique christening bonnet,
a walker she never had the chance to use.

Her cherry bed, her paintings. Her chicken bones
stashed in a basket by the back door.

Her insomnia, her sewing machine. A shed
full of saws. Her ashes, her guitar, her ADHD.

Her Ritalin. One hundred and seventeen pads
of Post-It notes. A closet full of broken lamps.

Her corkscrews, her boots (too big), her drapes,
her dresser, her kettles, her board games.

The diamond ring she wore to the hospital
and gave me one day when she could still speak:

take this. It’s nice but I won’t need it anymore.



The Softer Side of Sears

If there is one thing you’ve learned
from a half-century of living
with appliances, it’s that they keep their own
counsel. And that humming heals. Consider
the basement dehumidifier, slowly
pulling your tears from the air.
It could say something about mercy,
but instead it simply fills its little bucket.
Consider the microwave: its tiny light
comes on reliably. The refrigerator’s souvenir
magnets fastened to photos of your dog
comprise the closest thing you have to a shrine.
The washer and dryer are sex-obsessed,
down there rocking. They know everything
about you and your loneliness—
they could say something regarding
desire and the impossible desert of a Tuesday
evening. Instead they’re just swishing
the soapy water, pleasuring themselves
in these final, reckless days of their warranties.



Karin Gottshall’s most recent book is The River Won't Hold You (Ohio State University Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, and FIELD. She teaches at Middlebury College and directs the New England Young Writers' Conference at Bread Loaf.