Thursday 30 May 2024

Five Poems by Jeanne Griggs


Sunrise over OH Co Rd 9

February dawn. White frosted fields in rose

glow, spindly weeds at the edge outlined

with white, weighted over into the creek,

mist rising where the light reaches,

round hay bales with white plastic covers,

marshmallow farms, we used to call them.

A man, a car, a horse steam,

mouth, tailpipe, rear disappearing

over a hill towards a steeple. A few crows

pick at something on the side

of the road. I pull into a gravel drive

and see a silver car; a woman

has told me the truth.

It’s Sunday morning

as I drive home

with a photo of her car,

smoke coming from the chimney,

all doubt burned away

as I pull down the sunshade

and the frost starts to disappear.

Norway Night

July, after midnight,

I am roused by men singing

a cheerful chorus.

I turn over

and hear two women

on the dock below

my open window

come out of the sauna

and jump into cold water

emerging with shouts of glee.

It’s two in the morning

and the sky is still lit,

like the men and women.

Why should I waste

another moment inside,

take this lying down?

Sunny Hill Coffee Shop

The white formica tables

and silver napkin dispensers

are clean and empty, as if waiting

for jolly businessmen who would

grin while asking the waitress if she

was a model, “‘cause you’re so tall”

and pat her behind if she didn’t side

step quick enough on the way back

to the place she could stand

and clean silverware instead

of smiling at the old guys

to get a tip, a dish washer

looking on, polyester uniform

skirt repelling each drop of water.

Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse

We sat in the room with your portrait

and all the other ladies in filmy dresses,

gazing at the Blue Boy and debating

which dress we’d rather wear if we got

the choice, and she picked a very filmy,

very wrapped-up dress, one I hadn’t

admired because it wouldn’t suit me

and it dawned on me, sitting there,

that this was a perfectly good way of seeing

the world, trying pieces of it on, even when

the man with us didn’t want to consider

any of the dresses but picked the blue

satin of the boy’s pants, adopting the way

he cocked his head, looking back.

Adjunct Exit Interview, Kenyon College


Did you feel equipped to take on everything that we asked you to do?

Did you notice anything I did?


Did you have a clear understanding of the larger purpose of your work?

Always, as I explained my purpose to a new Ass Provost every year.


Did you get constructive feedback on your work?

No one noticed I was there until I left.


What did you enjoy most and find most satisfying?

Autonomy. The years of it.


What was the least enjoyable or most frustrating thing?

Loneliness. The years of it.


How would you describe the culture you tried to create in your service?

A culture of kindness, in response to the calls for more rigor.


If you could change anything about your position for the next person in this role, what would you change?

The half-time pay and lack of benefits.


Did the institution’s response to the pandemic contribute to your decision to leave?

Did it deepen my isolation? Of course.


If circumstances were different in the future, would you ever consider coming back?

If circumstances were different, I would still be there, unnoticed.

Jeanne Griggs is a reader, writer, traveller, and violinist. She directed the writing centre at Kenyon College from 1991-2022. Her presentations include “A Survey of Reanimation, Resurrection, and Necromancy in Fiction since Frankenstein” for ICFA, her reviews include Stephen Dunn’s The Not Yet Fallen World for Heavy Feather Review, and her volume of poetry, published by Broadstone Books, is entitled Postcard Poems. She reviews poetry and fiction at

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