Marjorie Saiser


Clara, who had worked so hard, 
kept chanting Keep-a-going, keep-a-going
after she lost her mind. Body

sturdy and thick, and what she
said and did so loony and so
frightening. There was no talking

her out of an idea; there was no
reasoning when she escaped to
the sidewalks at night. She needed

no sleep, her jaw set and the kitchen
drawers full of knives. Is this what we
come to? Our children putting us away

in locked wards, people paid to
herd us? Couldn’t you come up with
green pastures and streams for us to

lie down beside, like old bovines,
chewing and staring? You promised 
soft grass, birds singing.

Marjorie Saiser’s recent book, The Track the Whales Make, is published by University of Nebraska Press in Ted Kooser’s Contemporary Poets series. Saiser’s Losing the Ring in the River (University of New Mexico Press) won the Willa Award in 2014. A recording of a reading is available at