Delmarva Review: After the Houseguests Leave By Sue Ellen Thompson


I unmake the guestroom bed and let
the washing machine twist the sheets
into heavy coils of dampness. I erase
all evidence of breakfast, scour the sink,
and sweep the drive clear of all the leaves
that twirled so frantically in the wake
of their departure. Pressing memories
of dinner from the table cloth, I think

of how it was before they came⎯
the house a vault of quiet on the quiet street⎯
and before that, of the summer day
I found my mother twisted in a sheet,
wondering why her fever had returned to visit.
There was an even earlier day:
I was a guest in my parents’ house,

before I came to stay. Rising from her chair
at dinner, my mother pressed one hand
to the vault beneath her ribcage. The leaves
of unease stirred in me. The day before,
I’d dozed beneath a dome of trees, listening
as the girlish breeze of a neighbor’s child
twirled among the ghosts of laundry.

Sue Ellen Thompson, of Oxford, MD, is the first “featured writer” in the Delmarva Review. These poems are from a collection in the journal’s first edition, in 2008 edition. Among her published works, a fifth book of poems, THEY, was published in 2014. She has been an instructor at The Writer’s Center, in Bethesda, since 2007, and has previously taught at Middlebury College, Binghamton University, the University of Delaware, and Central Connecticut State University. She received the 2010 Maryland Author Award from the Maryland Library Association.

The Delmarva Review is a nonprofit literary journal publishing compelling new poetry, fiction and nonfiction from writers within the region and beyond. It will celebrate its Tenth Anniversary edition in November. The Review is supported
by the Eastern Shore Writers Association, private contributions, and a grantfrom the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts
Council. For more information, please visit here.

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