Karen Skolfield’s book Frost in the Low Areas won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry and the First Book Award from Zone 3 Press. She is the poetry editor for Amherst Live and an associate editor at Sundress Publications, and she has received fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Ucross Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Her poems have appeared in Best of the Net, Indiana Review, Memorious, Rattle, Split This Rock, and others; she teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts.
Two sisters walking. One
was molested by their father.
You wonder which is which,
if the one walking faster
spends her life fleeing a house on fire
only she can sense, if the one
with arms crossed over her chest
as if winter lived on in her body?
The shorter hem, or would it be the longer,
trying too late to hide? If the one
with no children or the one with four.
The one who startles when approached
from behind, or the one who laughs
with a hand pressed to her mouth,
afraid the ash will escape.
Both stiffen for the embrace.
Both stare at the shadow behind a man.
Is it the prettier one or the less talkative?
Asking these questions makes you realize
you must think like their father.
You must go back in time and decide
which child is more precious
and what precious means.
You must decide, when forming
the glass shards into laurels,
which child you may crown
your own hands.