The Tower Journal

Kelly DuMar

The Color of Her Eyes

These lilacs, he says, are the color of her eyes
the day we wed, the color of her eyes the day
she died. They grew from a shoot she cut from
a root in the yard of the house she left when she
wished to marry me. Her mother wished I was
Catholic. I wished to do the right thing. We married
in May when I promised her mother – the priest – to
raise Catholics. The yard of the house we bought
was dirt. We seeded grass, planted lilac, raised
that child, then two and more until there were five
and none of them were Catholic. These lilacs grew
in the yard of this house we kept for fifty years. In
April she died. The lilacs were late but her eyes
bloomed. I sat beside her bed that wasn’t ours.
She opened her eyes and I smiled. She held my
hand. In the end and the beginning your hands hold.
In between you waste all your chances to let go.
She looked at me. We must have remembered
something like love, and then she closed her eyes
and I was gone.

The house is yours now and the yard

*Published in “Corium,” 2014 and “All These Cures,” 2014


Stay put I tell my dad, like a parent
warning an impulsive child to behave
in her absence. I leave the car running,
heat blowing, knowing he can’t follow me
on his blown out knee even if he forgets
why I left him or who I am or when I’ll
return and I will not let him freeze
in my absence. Coatless

into the wind I cross the lot, halogen
lit, past freezing cars, parked without
passengers, fingers stinging and clutching
his prescription for pain. Inside, I follow

signs and more signs through a maze of
make-up, of medicine, to the rear where I wait
and keep waiting, while behind the counter

the pharmacist under bright lights is rushing,
and then I am too, back toward the exit – but
here he comes, limping through the electric door
waving my coat sleeves open like a father
tracking a forgetful child - like a father
who won’t let me freeze.

*Published in “Kindred,” 2013 and “All These Cures,” 2014

What This is Called

This is how you bend without tipping.
This is how you kneel and lift a soft
thing up like a flake of cold that falls
from a cloud when it’s white all over.
This is how you can smell it, sweet.
This one fell from a name I can’t name,
a flower that pricks, with its flakes falling
there and here on the ground going brown.
This flake of pure white is the only kind
of thing you need. You can bend without
tipping. You can pick one up from the ground
before it turns brown. You can smell it, sweet.
You can hold a bright white world called
something beautiful in your hand.

*Published in “Corium,” 2014 and “All These Cures,” 2014

Who Does Not Love a Wall

In the unit called Memory Care he grows
wild and young as a colt restless to sow his
oats and goddammit he will find the exit or
die trying, there’s a wilderness out there
stretches for miles – he’s got his eyes right
on it – but some jackass actually built this
wall this way so he can see out but not get
out and some son of a bitch stole all those
things you sit on out here so there’s nothing
to stack and climb to scale the wall and before
I built a wall like this, he says like somebody
who said it first, I’d ask to know what I was
walling in or walling out and to whom I was
like to give offence and what he knows but
doesn’t say is if there’s a wall and a will
there’s a way.

*Published in “Tupelo Quarterly,” 2014 and “All These Cures,” 2014


Somewhere there’s a door but it’s locked. They paint you into a place like this
but any way you look at it there are only two sides to a corner, or call it a nook
if it has windows even if they won’t open. A corner is two walls meeting here at
an angle so it’s a pretty nice place to stand for sunshine and finding the doodads
people who forget leave behind. There are bushes out there and a bench for
nobody to sit on.
Something you
can do in a nook
is stand behind
this wall listening
to the feet of the
people who want
you to find them.
They paint you
into this corner.
When you decide
to pop out they will
see where you are.
You will be a s

*Published in “Trickster Journal,” 2014 and “All These Cures,” 2014

Mystery Shopper in Memory Care

I forget what you came for. But I can’t pay you for it
because my wallet is no bigger than a breadbox. So
maybe you’ve seen it? See? Crumbs in my pockets
where there must have been crackers or coins and keys
to a castle. Maybe you’ve seen them? My money must
have slipped my mind into your bank account and I need
to make a deposit. Will you remind me what do I owe and
what I don’t own? Lots of things belong to anybody around
here, so it’s a cheap store for bargains. There are plenty of
rooms like this to go into. You can always find someone
to belong to. But I have been missing who you are.

*Published in “Foliate Oak,” 2014

How He Asks (After Alzheimer’s)

Where did you come from? By this I mean what fills
your days and how did you lose me, I mean when did
I leave you and how did you find me somewhere?

Let’s go back to the beginning.

How did you get here? By this I mean tell me how I
brought you into this world and what you are doing
with the life you’ve been given?

Are you doing the wonderful I knew you could do?

There’s something you forgot. By this I mean tell me
the news of all the everyone we have back where who
matters so much and when can I see them to tell them
how whistling and crackling and sunny they are?

Are you leaving?

Let’s go back to the beginning.

Where did you come from?

Did you come in a car?

Do you know the way home? Take me home now so you
will see how we got here from there and by that I mean do
you know how much your life matters to me?

*Published in “Milo Review,” 2014 and “All These Cures,” 2014

Copyright © 2014 Kelly DuMar

Kelly DumarKelly DuMar is a poet and playwright whose chapbook All These Cures, won the 2014 Lit House Press poetry contest. Her award winning plays have been produced around the US and she produces the Our Voices Festival of Boston Women Playwrights & Poets, now in its 9th year. Her website is

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014