Annie Stenzel’s poems have most recently appeared in the print journals Kestrel, Ambit, Catamaran Literary Reader, and Quiddity, Lunch Ticket, and Unsplendid. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Best of the Net. She received a B.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, both from Mills College. Stenzel is also a letterpress printer, never happier than when her hands are covered in ink. She pays the bills by working at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.
Bearing in mind the long hall of the tract home
you walked up and down with your sisters while Ma
watched gimlet-eyed and you three held your breaths
and stared raptly before you, heads fixed firmly
beneath whatever book you had chosen to balance—
two things are now sad, or three, on a good day:
what book did you carry? why can you no longer
walk with your head held high? and especially, why,
why did you never forgive your big sister before
her untimely death and actually not quite even then?