Tag Archives: Katherine Flannery Dering

Ode to my Uterus

By Katherine Flannery Dering

O river in flood season!
Wise elders notched granite pillars
to record your highs.
Sobek, Horus—the gods adored you.
Crocodiles crept and falcons flew.

O, the tantrums you threw!
—Like a child who didn’t win the prize,
you released torrents.

On an island mid-river
little girls in loose dresses
chase birds away from sown seed,
allowing them to germinate;
egrets hunt minnows
in irrigation ditches;

fishermen throw out nets
from small wooden boats
with green stripes
further out in the channel.

Raised in a deluge,
I worried about drowning,
cursed your effluent,
your stellar ability to arrive
at the most inconvenient time.
Lady parts, “that time,” 
—Mother couldn’t even name you.

No flood seasons now
—Hail Aswan—
The riverbed is dry, 
gravel and sand, prune of the plum,
and I’m doing repairs on the levees.

Still, I dream, 
of an alternate universe
where more children
catch minnows and chase birds;
more seeds germinate
and fill the land with rich fruit.


Katherine Flannery Dering has published a memoir–Shot in the Head, a Sister’s Memoir, a Brother’s Struggle; a poetry chapbook–Aftermath; and individual poems and essays in literary journals, recently in Inkwell, RiverRiver, Tilde, Cordella, and Adanna. She serves on the executive committee of the Katonah Poetry Series and lately divides her writing time between poetry, essays, and a book of short, feminist fables.

An Old Woman Speaks Up

By Katherine Flannery Dering

Someone comes rushing into my bedroom
and leaves a baby – a five or six
month old girl wearing only a diaper – 
on my bed.  She’s chubby and quiet and smells 
of ointment and talc. The blankets are disheveled, 
the sheets damp with sweat. They smell

of sex.  My lover, a tall, slender man with dark 
eyes and a beard—he looks suspiciously like 
my first husband, but he isn’t, of course— 
leans back on the bed and smiles. 
He’s wearing no clothes. He doesn’t mind 
the baby at all.  (How did he get here?)  I think

we are in a New Orleans bordello.  
There are lacings on the floor-to-ceiling windows, 
like the ones at the Creole cottage we renovated. 
But that was the 70’s; this place looks 
like a sepia-toned Storyville scene.  
Am I in a corset? The child’s mother

has gone. The lover has gone. I shout
after them, “I am not as metaphysical as I seem.”
I hear children playing. There is no air.  
The sky outside the window is gray.
I sit on the side of the bed, and the baby 
lies on her back and plays with her toes.


Katherine Flannery Dering has published a memoir–Shot in the Head, a Sister’s Memoir, a Brother’s Struggle; a poetry chapbook–Aftermath; and individual poems and essays in literary journals, recently in Inkwell, RiverRiver, Tilde, Cordella, and Adanna. She serves on the executive committee of the Katonah Poetry Series and lately divides her writing time between poetry, essays, and a book of short, feminist fables.

Bluebeard’s Widow Cooks

By Katherine Flannery Dering

Night and day, you are the one, she sings softly 
as she washes and de-ribs a stalk of celery. She snips 
the pale leaves from the top, then with the peeler slips 
off the long, silky strands; breaks the bird carcass into clumps.
Sunday’s chicken is Tuesday’s chicken soup.

Only you beneath the moon and under the sun. Bah!
Satisfying rapid-fire chops with her largest cleaver
dispatch the carrot. Fresh parsley leaves are stripped 
from the stem. Cleaver ferries green debris to the pot.
Sun, moon—all hogwash, as her grandmother used to say.

Whether near to me or far… Well, he won’t be back. 
And now I’ll need to hire a new locksmith.
“You need to obey me,” he insisted.
“Since when does he get to tell me what to do?”
Wash day on Monday; soup on Tuesdays.

She’s on a mission now. Chop, puree, mix, blend, 
the various buttons say. She picks one and jabs it with her index finger, 
then shouts over its scream, “Now add a dash of sherry 
and a dollop of sour cream. It’s the only way he likes it.”  
“…and the music keeps repeating, you, you, you…”


Katherine Flannery Dering has published a memoir–Shot in the Head, a Sister’s Memoir, a Brother’s Struggle; a poetry chapbook–Aftermath; and individual poems and essays in literary journals, recently in Inkwell, RiverRiver, Tilde, Cordella, and Adanna. She serves on the executive committee of the Katonah Poetry Series and lately divides her writing time between poetry, essays, and a book of short, feminist fables.