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Emily MacGriff

In the Hallway

The day my Mother was raped

Did the oak floorboards creak with age wafting

in tobacco-scented draft around my padded soft toe?

Did the Howard Miller clock chime as it usually does

at midnight—the moment I was awake—and did my mother cry

or was I straining so far outside my splintering body I gave her tears

that were mine? Did I hear the dead pet Guinea pig in the freezer

skittering about plastic bags of okra and peaches in hard cream—

Do memories count as truth

if you’re 8 and suspended

outside your parents bedroom, feeling

for an I need you; help me knotted in the wallpaper

that doesn’t come loose like a little girls hold on a plastic flashlight

and portable land line that fell from each hand in echoing collapse

that sounded like the last dive

of a bowhead speared—

children really aren’t useful



Emily’s work pulls largely from her experience working on expedition ships as a marine biologist, wilderness guide and glorified boat mechanic, mostly in the polar regions (Antarctica and the High Arctic), the South Pacific and British Isles. Most of her 20s were spent living and working aboard expedition vessels doing everything from tracking polar bears in Svalbard to observing ceremonial practices of the Asaro Mudmen in Papua, New Guinea. She is mostly retired from shipboard work and focused on navigating life as a woman, artist and mother in the United States. She is based out of Detroit and owns the MacGriff Writing Studio. Since receiving an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2022, she has had poetry published in Australia and the United States.


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