13 Knishes by Kim Dower: Coming of Age in Poetry

On today’s show, Kim Dower talks about her work coaching authors to be their best selves as a publicist. But Kim’s primary work as an artist includes a body of stunning poetry – physical and visceral – published in three collections. Since we didn’t get to talk about her word work on the show, she shared a bit for us here. Find more at KimDowerPoet.com


13 Knishes

by Kim Dower

from Last Train to the Missing Planet

A friend brings me 13 knishes
from Brighton Beach
carries them in a plastic bag
on the airplane from New York
to L.A.: potato, meat, kasha
I didn’t know what to say.  I’m touched
he thought of me, wanted
to surprise me, the weight alone
daunting, carrying onto the plane
even if it crashed he’d have
held them tight, gone down
the emergency slide clutching them,
those knishes brought me back
so many memories riding the D
from Manhattan to the beach
I was a teen, towel rolled under my arm
would stop at that dive under the “EL”
eat one before I hit the sand
like a punch in the stomach
even without gravy that knish
was lethal, and now I have 13.
How could he know the smell
alone set me back remembering the man
standing over me, blocking the sun
not a soul on the sand, my eyes closed
body slathered in Coppertone
he bent down, kissed me on the lips
said, that’s what we do where I come from,
I said, this is America, I’m 16, just want a tan,
and I could never shake that dread
like a knish in my stomach feeling
like lead, a gift from a place long ago
way before I knew how to say no.

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