Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2020    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 20


French silk sample book

Paula Reed Nancarrow
Morning Coffee
& other poems

Jill Burkey
& other poems

Oak Morse
Boys Born out of Blues
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Engine Ode
& other poems

Monique Jonath
a mi sheberach
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Human Condition
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik
and we are echoes
& other poems

Devon Bohm
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
I Rest My Mother Tongue
& other poems

John Delaney
Poem as Map
& other poems

Elizabeth Bayou-Grace
Fire in Paradise
& other poems

In Utero
& other poems

Michelle Lerner
Ode to Exhaustion
& other poems

William French
I Have Never Been
& other poems

Josiah Patterson Wheatley
Coeur de Fleurs
& other poems

Karo Ska
womb song
& other poems

Robyn Joy
& other poems

Han Raschka
Love Language
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
The Memory in My Pinky
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
Europe, too, Came from Somewhere Else
& other poems

Scott Ruescher
At the Childhood Home of Ozzy Osbourne
& other poems

Emily R. Daniel
Visitation Dreams
& other poems

Lindsay Gioffre
Toxicodendron Radicans [Sonnet 1]
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik

and we are echoes

I. Mother of Mothers

It is not a mother’s place to live longer than her child—this our Mother Earth grinds into our hearts and wombs—there is an order and a place to life and death. We have learned this, the mothers, not from watching the ways of living, but from the imprint of our goddess Evolution on our cells, our brains, our flesh. It is known.

I began to think of her as grown, my daughter, who roamed the earth as if all of it was hers to keep, and gathered all its children in her arms—

She was a mother in her own right before she ever bore the children she and I would love with fierce attention, grinding them into the stony fire of the ground and pulling them, arms limping, to the boundless sky.

It was hard, even when she was seventeen and still a child, still a babe of this trial, to remind myself she was not so ferocious as her wilding hair, not so boundless as her deepest dreams, and so I made her thus: I left her growing, simply growing, on her own. When she called our satellite phone to say, so calm, the house next door is burning, I was not surprised. When she ran across the earth in 1989, out of reach of landlines and barely held by letters, I knew her to be extraordinary. She was everything she wanted to be and she was okay, floating on the waves of change as if she had called them there herself.

And so it becomes, this turning in the end of my long life lived, that I endure the noticing only now of what I knew in my womb: she was drowning. She is my daughter, after all, and so what she hid from her own children peaked out the edges of her mouth as she said good-bye those nights, to drive her family home through the snow and bitter air, her breath condensing in the ways I knew myself of sadness, boundless and despaired.

Her daughter returned her ashes to the earth,

and so I salt it with my tears.

II. Mother of Daughters

It is not a mother’s place, to lose her child. This is the agony of motherhood, the knowledge of the way of life and the knowledge of the way of genes. The one which tells us we can lose them, and the one that tells us we must not. It is this we know, with our blood and bones and milk: our lives are their protection. And if we break upon the rocks of life, we must pray, and pray, and pray.

I tried to tell my daughter for years I was breaking.

I told her the way I tell her everything:

Just in case.


I know that it will come for me but I don’t know when.

I hear it on the edges of my love for her, so I place

a finger across my lips, and whisper shush.

Not yet.

I lived everything I wanted to, and then I made her.

I gave her a heart, and lungs, and brain.

I gave her my curly hair, and thin fingers,

and slightly longer second toe.

When she was born, I gave her my eyes,

though she did not keep them.

They filled with melanin, to turn them green.

But I love them still.

I gave my little baby my blood and bones and milk,

but I will not give her this—my sadness I put on dialysis.

I filter it out before it can ever reach her mind

that is quite so small and young,

it would drink it like a starving bee.

I know this, and I pick it out of the air—

sugar spun, crystallizing and sticking to my fingertips.

Now she is eleven and everyone says she is wise,

and I am sorry, but I could not stop

my answers when she asked me

why I was sad when she was four.

Her eyes were a child’s eyes and they were still blue—

they could read the truth before she knew the letters,

and so I am sorry, but I could not stop

from showing her my fingertips so dark and sticky

as if I had dipped them in a pot of ink and left them out to dry.

She is eleven now and everyone says she is wise,

but I know better. She learned how to lie,

so now she does not notice when

I hide this book as she comes in the room.

Now I can tell her

Just in case.

and pretend I do not know how soon I will be gone.

I tell her how to live without me

Just in case.

and I worry she drank too much of my sugared

sticking sadness, so I tell her:

It always gets better.


It always gets better.

But still my fingerprints stain her cheeks as she cries.

III. Daughter of Mothers

It is a daughter’s place, to live longer than her mother. To step along the footsteps of her story as it fades from the earth. We have learned this, the daughters, from our mothers’ lips, as they tell us of the world. We know this, and we press against and into them, we leave and then return to them, forever in the knowledge of our coming grief.

I am a holder

of many gifts,

and many traumas,

passed from mother to

daughter, to mother again

in this line of giving that stretches

from the dampened dirt of burials and

the dusted ashes of cremations, to the

soles of my feet, planted flat upon this

earth. Those secrets of deaths and

destinies that I hide within my

weary chest were born by

mother and daughter

before me, before you,

before us. They whisper to

me the rites of love, as I honor

the mother of my own body, the

giver of life and death who joined them

all too soon. They whisper to me the rites of

death and living, in the rending memories of all

their number. It is all those who lost their mothers

and daughters who tell me that this is the agony.

And so they welcome their newest spirit, come

to them in all the love of mothers who

embrace the heart of breaking, who

set their bodies in the way of loss.

I hold this, even as she leaves us,

her daughter, her mother,

to stand alone in the

swirling dust of

losing her.

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik lives in Colorado with her family. In another life, she runs her own business as a consultant for small businesses and nonprofits. In this one, she writes poetry to share those beautiful agonies failed by words alone. “and we are echoes” is her first poem to be published.

Dotted Line