Mother’s sturdy maiden name.
Then, the first black cat who wasn’t ours.
The orange cat named after another animal (not Bear).
The orange cat’s nicknames: Boutros-Boutros,
Fructose, Fruchtey, Sir Fruchtey.
Sunday. Seven. Seven-Up. 1970. Julie1970.
Home. Home with parents on B***ne Avenue.
First lover. What he called me. Second.
Gone. Why? The year I listened to Rufus Wainwright
every day. Favorite songs: “April Fools,”
“Oh, What A World,” “Beautiful Child,” “The One You Love.”
The silver ring that meant “before.”
The silver ring that meant “mother.”
Lost and lost. Where I was born. Where I grew up.
Favorite mountain range, favorite movie,
favorite constellation, lake, pie. Favorite day:
Sunbathing on the Schroon River while
Mom and her sister murmured in the water.
The year the war started. Tuesday05: (the day I read
about the screaming Iraqi girl in the locked car
who was crushed by a tank, and I heard those familiar words
coming out of my mouth, I can’t believe it…
But that’s not true. I have spent hours now,
devising her escape, rewinding. Her father parked the car
somewhere else, or at the last minute
she wedged her fingernail under the lock, pried
open the door, and rolled to safety.) Freedom.
Liberty. Kitty the cat. Kitty the yoga instructor.
So hum. Sanskrit for “I am that.” I am that. I am that.
Julie Hessler lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in Water~Stone, Minnesota Monthly and other publications. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College.