sweet: 2.1
Kelle Groom
Hôtel Dieu

It was a medieval hall of four hundred beds for the sick poor between the cathedral and river in a green city where the people disrobed, lying down like bridges. One king washed their feet, though in those days, disease was said to be a punishment for sin—the hospital a city block that’s still invisible as if the stone had turned to sky. In the hospital, a woman counted my ribs beginning just below my throat: numbered the bones that saved my heart. Another woman wears a pink shirt that says, Another Boyfriend Please, opening her daughter’s koolaid drink with her teeth, having a potato chip picnic in the corner. A freckle-faced man turns my palm up, says I like the freckles on your arm, tells me to put my arm around his neck when I begin to fall, makes me a red velvet pillow bed under white paper, and brings me cup after cup of water, tells me I can go days without food, but my blood won’t circulate without water, though I’d thought it ran on its own race track, the chain mail of my ribs facing out so I could glide into the ocean, seagulls carrying stars in their mouths, dropping them from the sky to crack open on the sea round rocks, the path of rocks leading into the horizon not here, invisible, but I can feel it saying, come along.

Kelle Groom’s third poetry collection, Five Kingdoms, will be published by Anhinga Press in December 2009. Her previous collections are Luckily, a 2006 Florida Book Award winner (Anhinga), and Underwater City (University of Florida, 2004).

Her poems and essays have appeared in AGNI, DoubleTake, Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Witness, among others. Groom's awards include fellowships and scholarships from Atlantic Center for the Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and grants from the State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, United Arts of Central Florida, Volusia County Cultural Council, and New Forms Florida.

A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work was recognized as notable in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007. Groom is a contributing editor for The Florida Review and lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. She loves blueberries and granola.