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Grace Mattern


Sharp shadows

slash the yard, squares

of window on carpet

a whole moon

mirror of distant, careless

fire, cold witness

to hours endured

pacing outside your bed’s

soft box, common fear

carried through each room

as night flickers

and time spills its ash.

Now the walls shift.

Now you walk that line.

Bouquet for the Kitchen Table

A lamp by the neighbor’s

front steps laps

into a shallow pool

the sliced moon slits

on its way to setting.

Three more nights

and this wide window

will be dark, the lit face

turned away. The cardinal

returns with morning,

lights in the apple tree

as I approach with clippers.

Blizzard Moon

Clouds race, storms primed

to collide, sweeping the each

into the vast. Snow

has its own code, swallows

light, blind windows

pleated white, eyes

shuttered. I fold fresh

towels, unfold them to wipe

footprints from your floor,

the tempest tracked

indoors. You reach for sleep,

brace as wind and ice

break over your body’s sashes

and clatter against glass.

Artist's statement: The BoxBook is a handmade book of six folded boxes, each of which opens to a poem. The poems come from a series written during a period of insomnia that spanned several winter moon cycles, as I grappled with my sister's diagnosis of a terminal illness. Images of contained and boxed energy permeate the poems, which inspired me to create the BoxBook.

Grace Mattern's poetry and prose have been published widely, including in The Sun, Calyx, Prairie Schooner, and anthologies. She has received fellowships from the New Hampshire State Arts Council and Vermont Studio Center and been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. Her book The Truth About Death won the NH Readers’ Choice Award for Outstanding Work of Poetry in 2014. She also makes collages and hand bound books. She served as the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual violence for 30 years and was deeply embedded in the movement to end violence against women. Her more recent community work is focused on racial justice and land conservation. She also writes columns for local newspapers. You can find more of her writing and samples of her art at

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