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Girl in tree Bark - Kelly Dumar


In Kelly DuMar’s girl in tree bark, the past, especially the life of the family of origin, acts as a kind of sap that provides nutrients for the photosynthesis that charges the poems. But the poems send their salubrious nourishment down to the past, which becomes transformed with the poem-making. The effect of the past on the present, and vice-versa, is not static; it is a reciprocally kinetic symbiosis, played out in fluent, daring narratives, in language keen with insight and liquid with sumptuous musicality. In almost every poem, a coupling of devastation and healing works a remarkable magic.

      Tom Daley, author of House You Cannot Reach

Weight 5 oz

Read excerpts

They let you eat cake on White Pond Road

First, like all the other cousins, here’s a child’s thin slice being served on my grandparents’ piazza. It’s called a whole sheet, ordered from a bakery, a flavorless yellow sponge, white frosted, a garden of bright blue roses planted on top for this family reunion.

While cousins play hide and seek in the yard, while aunts and uncles sit reuniting, the half-eaten sheet wants more. I make trip after trip across the piazza in front of all the mothers and fathers and grandparents, helping myself, plating slab after slab in my hand, to the yard, melting every leftover rose on my tongue, caring so much for a cake everyone has forgotten, I feel queasy and crawl with my ache, my rose blue lips, onto my mother’s lap where it takes too long for the effects to wear off.

One thing I’d like answered about White Pond Road

is why my grandfather calls his hot glassed-in porch without screens a piazza.

A nice surprise you can find at White Pond Road

is how a French twist untwists into hair falling all the way down the middle of my grandmother’s back like a girl’s after she puts on her bathrobe before going to bed .

A mystery of White Pond Road

is, where is the pond?

Instead of carpet at White Pond Road

you have floor called linoleum, it bubbles in uneven hills under your cold feet on the way to the bathroom at the bottom of the stairs when your parents leave you overnight, and you have to go alone so you won’t wet the bed you share with your sisters in the spare room of the attic.

When you’re trying to leave White Pond Road

Thanksgiving’s the only day you can come in and go out through the front door, so you have to stand on your tiptoes. This helps you see out the window of the kitchen. You can see onto the piazza and keep your eyes glued on the storm door. Pretty soon your grandfather says maybe your mother’s not coming at all, maybe she’s leaving you here for good, and your grandmother says, now Jim, it’s not nice to tease her, and the way he’s smiling makes your stomach do a somersault, like you swallowed a squirrel, so even after the storm door opens and lets you go, it takes a long time for the effects to wear off.


You are a seed
one, in particular

I am empty
of milk, a weed

wintering husk
a country, you belonged

August was sun sealed
my pouch, your plenty

November is blown –

you are fastened
to ruin, so what

if you waste your one
your only

About the Author

Kelly DuMar is a poet, playwright and workshop facilitator who is the author of two poetry collections, All These Cures and Tree of the Apple. Her plays are published by dramatic publishers, and she is author of Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly produces the Our Voices Festival of Boston Area Women Playwrights, held at Wellesley College, now in its 13th year, and she produces the annual Boston Writing Retreat and the weeklong summer Play Lab for the International Women’s Writing Guild, where she serves on the board. Kelly founded the Farm Pond Writers Collective to guide women writers to write from their personal photos, develop their artistic voices and connect deeply with their creative lives. Kelly lives with her husband on the Charles River in Sherborn, MA, and shares her nature photos and creative writing in her daily blog, #NewThisDay. You can learn more at


Copyright © 2019 Kelly Dumar

Cover photograph by the author

ISBN 978-1-949279-12-2

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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