A Poem by Sharon Kennedy-Nolle


The Return of the Woolly Mammoth


You rarely wore it,

though you yourself chose the color, midnight blue,

and knee-length cut. In derision, you named it

“the woolly mammoth,” pointing to its Pleistocene proportions.

Still, at each sign of snow, I nagged you to wear it.


The last time I saw you,

you confessed you’d have to give it away.

“Not one more winter,” you swore.

Yet when you chose it once more,

were you thinking of me?


Last of its species, the mammoth was hunted

to extinction.

In a different Ice Age, it took you down

under the cold waters

of the dam, and sure enough, kept you down,

sodden, for a month,

until you surfaced, found.


I like to think of you buttoned up,

and until the last

breaths, beats,

its boxy bulk somehow

kept you unaware,

insulated from creeping cold discovery.



This poem first appeared in Streetlight Magazine.



A note from the poet: This poem is part of a larger collection of elegies I’m assembling that focus on the recent loss of my son.

A graduate of Vassar College, I hold an MFA and doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. In addition to attending the Sarah Lawrence Summer Writing Institute for several years, I was accepted to the Bread Loaf Conferences in both Middlebury and Sicily in 2016 as well as the Sewanee Writers’ Conference this year. This year marks the fourth that I have been honored to be a scholarship participant at the Frost Place Summer Writing Program.

My poetry has appeared or is upcoming in apt, Bluestem Magazine, Broad River Review, The Cape Rock, Chicago Quarterly Review, Delmarva Review, The Dickinson Review, Juked, Lindenwood Review, Menacing Hedge, The Midwest Quarterly, OxMag, Pennsylvania English, The Round, Schuylkill Valley Review, Storyscape, Streetlight Magazine, Talking River, Zoned, and Westchester Review, among others, while my dissertation was published as Writing Reconstruction: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postwar South (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). My chapbook, Black Wick was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook Contest.


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