Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup


“Why can’t abattoir mean / boudoir?”

Published onNov 27, 2019

“The Vines, They Creep,” Richfield, Minn., June 6, 2016, black and white digital photograph, Canon 5D, Jerome Berglund

I feel sorry for words trapped
in the boxes of their meanings.
Abattoir sounds so nice I
confuse it with boudoir.
Why can’t abattoir mean

I was the only one who saw my grandmother
read Barbara Cartland paperbacks. No one
believed me because she culled and plucked
chickens, rototilled and cultivated garden
beds, steam pressed sheets, sewed her own
clothes, and cracked her fingers
raising shed walls. The week after her funeral
I dragged a box from her closet.
A pink glow puffed when I pulled the flaps open.

My preference is abattoir means boudoir.
I suppose a boudoir can be an abattoir.
My mother must have thought so too,
because she threw away the books.

My wife buys our black Pomeranian pink sweaters
and matching bows. They give our dog the air
of a back-cover Barbara Cartland author portrait.
People look at me funny when I walk her.
It brings back a memory though: my grandmother’s lips
moved like wind-ruffled straw while she read.

Lately it is hard for me to suspend disbelief.
When I watch The Wizard of Oz I take
a few mental steps back
until the crew, camera, studio doors, and ceiling lights
are in the picture.

I am stepping back to watch my grandmother
reading. I am imagining what
she looked like younger. I am imagining what
she would look like older, wrapped in what
she always wanted, pink chiffon,
fringe, and ruffles, furs, pearls,
and a plumed hat bigger than all that.

Stephen Roger Powers started writing poetry almost twenty years ago to pass time in the middle of the night when he was too energized to sleep after coming off the stage in comedy clubs around the Midwest. He is the author of three poetry collections published by Salmon Poetry in Ireland. He also has a collection of short stories forthcoming from Closet Skeleton Press.

Jerome Berglund graduated summa cum laude from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. He has had photographs published and awarded in local papers and recently staged an exhibition in the Twin Cities area which included a residency of several months at a local community center.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?