Katie Knoll


Katie Knoll is currently a MA student of fiction at the University of Cincinnati. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, Nimrod, and Rattle, among others. Her poetry and prose have been featured as one of Narrative’s 2013 Top 5 Stories of the Year and awarded the George M. Harper prize for fiction and the Jean Chimsky Poetry Prize.

Louise Bourgeois to Her Husband, on Love and Her Father’s Mistress

Robert, you might not remember but once, drunk,
you told me of your first time: you were twelve; it was brief.

Like houses collapsing under wind, and like you,
my young father gave too quickly. To my mother—

his house, a ring, my brothers, me. To me, his name, Louis.
Like a runt, Sadie came last, received little.

I’d like to say she got nothing, but there is the burning house
smell of her curling her hair at the bureau, laughing

when Father came from behind, cupped her eyes,
set before her a chocolate wrapped in gold foil.

Robert, we will have no daughters—I learned early on
how a house will give under too many girls.

Of my mother’s death, the reports say consumption,
but it was a house that fell on her, and when it fell

she burst, and steam came, and burned my father,
and his Sadie, sweet governess, who taught us the words

on loan, and to fold a crane from foil left after chocolates
have been eaten. Robert, I can promise you only houses split

with guillotines, iron spiders who in my voice say your name,
and my stomach rounding to you, filling our house,

and also our sons, someday, with stitches from thrown rocks
and our love. This is love, we will say, showing them a flower

with two heads, x-rays after accidents: how broken bones
rebuild cells, coming always back to each other.