Jan Ande
  • Jan Ande
  • I watch as he tells a woman that her dead mother
  • is on the other side, happy and safe, and the woman
  • is smiling and teary eyed a little and so so pleased
  • and then he says: and she is with her granddaughter,
  • and for a moment the woman looks stunned
  • begins to shake her head, no, she hasn’t lost a child
  • and then the look of shock and amazement,
  • the psychic saying: well, she was very small
  • didn’t come in for long, and the woman is remembering
  • the act she has tried to forget (the clinic or coat hanger)
  • and I am remembering knowing, but not really knowing,
  • at one month, at two months, and then doing line
  • after crystalline line for three days until finally
  • the pain and cramping started and the second time
  • with the blood came a tiny pink thing
  • no bigger than my thumbnail, like an itty bitty rat
  • but she was a daughter, and I even fished her out
  • of the toilet and held her in my palm
  • and knew, knew, but kept saying no it couldn’t be
  • but it was, she was, and so someday my mother
  • will be in another realm and a psychic
  • will say: she is there with your daughter and I will cry
  • and say yes: and she didn’t come in for very long: and yes
  • it was I who took her life, I who held her in my hand
  • for a moment, then placed her back into the bowl
  • and flushed once, then twice, but for twenty years
  • she has been here, in my memory, entombed in my mind,
  • a girl who wears gold rim eyeglasses and likes to read
  • who forgives me even now she is someone else
  • even now she is mine.

Jan Ande comes from a long line of Anglican clergy. She was initiated into Tibetan Buddhism by Kalu Rinpoche and later joined a Roman Catholic community. She has an MFA in poetry from San Diego State University and an MA in Asian studies. Her first collection of poetry, Instructions for Walking on Water, won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and for the collection from which this powerful poem is drawn, Reliquary, she won the 2002 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. The book is published by Texas Review Press. Jan Ande lives with her husband in Oregon and is currently working as a visual artist.


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