grief being somewhat symmetrical

     Nicole Callihan


my grandfather could balance a spoon on his nose


or was that my father?


here is a bladder of warm water to ease your pain


here is a table improperly set


for a period of my youth my mother could not bear to look at me


instead of sitting across from her at the table


she asked me to sit beside her


that way my stomach doesn't turn


for a long time I believed this was a funny story

Nicole Callihan’s poetry books include SuperLoop (2014), and the chapbooks: The Deeply Flawed Human (2016), Downtown (2017), The Couples (a novella, 2019), and ELSEWHERE ( w/ Zoë Ryder White, 2020). Her work has appeared in Tin House, Sixth Finch, PEN--America, The American Poetry Review, and as a Poem-a-Day selection from the Academy of American Poets. She is currently Artist-in-Residence at Asterix Journal. Find out more at