LuAnn Keener-Mikenas


Closing the House


Up and down the ladder

from my old room to the attic, then

standing at the bottom, shower after

shower of grit in my face

as my brother and son hand down

the artifacts of our parents' lives. 

For the huge trunk we knew things

went into and never came out of

they had to cut a hole in the ceiling,

both of them red-faced, heaving

till it crashed to the bedroom floor.

When it yawned open,


Mother's dresses

rose of their own splendor:

tailored tweeds with velvet cuffs,

buttons like medallions,

tiny moth holes through which

time escaped.  What did we

say to each other, reeling

on the mouse-stained floorboards

as on the deck of a great ship,

linked by a thin cord of genes,

a blast of wonder, breaking

this tough bread together,


precious dust

in the mouth of wind.

LuAnn Keener's first collection of poems, Color Documentary, appeared from Calyx Books in 1994.  A second collection, Homeland, is currently circulating.  Her work has appeared in Poetry, Shenandoah, Quarterly West, Chelsea, New Orleans Review, and others.  Her awards include the Writers at Work First Prize for Poetry from Quarterly West, the Chelsea 1st Place Award for Poetry, the Mary Roberts Rinehart 1st Place Award for Poetry, and the Americas Review 1st Prize for Poetry.  She is the recipient of a MacDowell Colony Fellowship and many fellowships at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  Her poetry has been increasingly concerned with the environmental crisis and the remaking and spiritualization of our relationship with the natural world.  Keener has also written a series of children's poems, "Healing Songs for Children," for dramatic performance in therapeutic and educational settings.  Originally from Ector, Texas, Keener received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville in 1986 and won a 1990 Virginia Prize in Poetry.  She taught English at Virginia Tech for several years before making a career change.  She has worked intensively with emotionally disturbed children in residential treatment; currently, she is a therapist in private practice and at Randolph College in Virginia.



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