That built me up
workers atop scaffolding
fast strokes for the lips
brown smudge eyes. No matter
how many times mother put on
my face, I washed it off. Again
to the river. Duwamish bath
by the bodies. A ferry carcass. Green
River women. Boeing airfield,
and me dripping stank rain
up hill, drug river up to that same kitchen
window where my father slit
his wrists to stain our sink.

I scrub blood with my hair,
eyeshadow, lipstick,
a mother’s ego like a kiss
cleans each vein
green of river mud.

Brooke Callen


Brooke Callen lives in Seattle, Washington.  She has a degree in English from the University of Oregon and earned her MFA in Creative Writing through Pacific Lutheran University.  She is an avid sports fan, and can often be found cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks, Seattle Sounders, Mariners, and Seahawks. Her greatest joy is spending time with her family.

© 2018