After the three sisters had waited nine months
for the baby who was born dead,
they fretted about her being buried alone.
So they placed next to her
their almost-favorite stuffed animals,
the toucan by her plump cheeks
and the kookaburra by her elbow.
In her hands, they put the board book
Good Night Gorilla, in which the gorilla-hero steals
the keys from the zookeeper’s belt,
and frees the elephant, lion and giraffe.
The sisters knew she would laugh
when the animals followed the keeper to his house,
and the gorilla slept in his bed.
Plus she would learn about locks and keys.
And when Grandma died seven days later,
they knew she would read the book to the baby
and blow on her belly and sing
Toora, Loora, Loora.
These are the things
the three sisters did and told us,
the grownups who did nothing, but sit
like stones in our chairs, staring.
First appeared in Naugatuck River Review
Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize, Ashland University, has been published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press. Liz has won the following prizes: The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011, and the same prize for fiction, 2015; The Cobalt Review’s Baseball Poetry Prize, 2014; Delaware Beach Life’s First Place Poetry Prize, 2012, and Trellis Magazine’s First Place in Poetry, 2008; The Gypsy Satchet Award in Letters from Fiction Fix 16. She has also received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Martha’s Vineyard Writers’ Residency. Liz serves on the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories. She is most grateful for her ten grandchildren who pepper her life and who live on the next block.