Renee Emerson


The sheets are thin and white as a bill
we can’t pay. Light and faces filter
through pink plaid, blue stripe. I am the parent
who builds the best tents. Ties sheet-corners
to the spindle-spines of kitchen chairs—
Mawmaw’s chicken house walnut chairs,
the black-painted Walmart chairs from college,
the roadside abandoned chairs, all clustered
like a last supper.

In the living room, our only space for such
extravagances, they play sentinels to the lair.
I weigh down what is uncertain, leave a measure
of concealment, of places to view the outside.
Inevitably, the children find the most joy
in the careful structure collapsing.

Renee Emerson

is a homeschooling mom of seven and the author of Church Ladies (forthcoming from Fernwood Press, 2022); Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016); and Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her poetry has been published in Windhover, Poetry South, and other journals. She adjunct teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University and blogs about poetry, grief, and motherhood at