Skaidrite Stelzer


Skaidrite Stelzer is a poet and teacher living in Toledo Ohio. A post-WWII refugee, she grew up in Michigan as a displaced person. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including the Georgetown Review, Eclipse, The Fourth River, and The Third Coast. She teaches a variety of writing and literature courses at The University of Toledo.

Remembering Roundness

Before work, I look at pictures of sinkholes
In China, Guatemala, Texas.
Places the earth suddenly opens—
A purse of bats
Or pocket of bleached spiders.
Like in sleep the breath
Occasionally pops and I hear
My own name in my mouth.

In Kalamazoo, I danced with babies—
One on each hip, the third holding the edge
Of my skirt, while the man I desired
Baked bread for everyone,
Came onto the porch and stared,
Told jokes about toothbrushes.

Sometimes the moon comes closer.
Then my grandmother sighs and closes
The curtains, causing paisley waves of light.
"You'll go crazy," she says,
Fearing an overdose of silver.

So that is the color of my wedding band,
Traditional, woven in native strands of metal,
A northern motif, meaning I get to keep the pick-up truck.
Piling children in before the day of seat-belts,
I hold them back with my hand.

At the university, I am building chairs and ladders
Of words so the students can speak them.
Sitting or climbing, I'm letting them choose.
The earth belches beautiful sinkholes.
Some fill with green water.
Others take down homes or suicidal dogs.
There are formulas for these things.

The man I desired is writing books.
I buy them all but never look inside.
I know the titles. My back was strong then.
My feet bare and balanced,
A small loop of purple within each eye.