Poetry from Paige Sullivan

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On Paige Sullivan:

Paige Sullivan earned her MFA at Georgia State University, where she also served on the staffs of Five Points and New South. In addition to publishing book reviews and essays, her poetry has appeared or will soon appear in Ninth Letter, Tampa Review, American Literary Review, and other journals. She lives in Atlanta, where she manages marketing and communications for a nonprofit in the city center.


A Genealogy of Women

Upcoming in Issue 35

Mom gave the sex talk in unplanned installments:
over coneys and Cokes in the minivan, parked at Sonic;
through the window while pumping gas at the Shell station;
between puffs of her Virginia Slims at the kitchen table.

As kids, she and her siblings slept while Gramma snuck out—
an affair with the local preacher leading to a marriage
everyone hated. Years later, I watched Mom slow dance
in the living room with my stepdad’s work friend, who

never left his wife, who stopped answering Mom’s calls.
Now I’m supine with my legs quaking and open, socked feet,
bare thighs, the modesty of my shirt and bra still on.
The nurse must be a mom: she asks me about school, if I can

recite a poem for her. The speculum cracks me, pushes out
the words The way a crow / Shook down on me / The dust of snow—
She calmly talks me through the exam to fill the quiet, to cover up
what I don’t say: that my Mom was always a hopeless romantic,

that I might be the same kind of foolish, that I feel mangrove roots
of wishful thinking winding and tangling through my blood.

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