Gettysburg Review
Gettysburg College | Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Diane Schenker

Heirloom

Take Medea’s cloak of fire.
Put it on. To everyone’s great horror,
wearer burns to a crisp.

Take the crisp and crumble
mightily with axe and stone, then
mix with shavings of mastodon.

Leave mixture out in the rain until
Time starts being counted, then count:
six epochs and an era or two,

to taste; then mix in a
portion of a lake (the best are
too far away to get to easily).

Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring
constantly and with abandon; add
a nuncle and some foolscap sliced

into bite-sized pieces. When soft
and indistinguishable, let cool;
pour into molds, male and female.

When set, remove from molds, being
careful to hide any lost limbs; paper
over longing that protrudes through the

surface. Leave adjacent on plate
overnight. The hills and valleys should
be fully populated in the morning; gather

relations together, grind to a fine powder.
Sprinkle over water, let settle, then take
the passed-through liquid and spread

over the pasture. Graze the sheep
there, then shear them and make a cloak;
it should be pale in comparison. Do not

wash. Try not to sweat. Wipe up food stains
immediately. Do not dry clean. Hold
the cloak in your mind’s eye, in

a storm on the heath, during that bad
land purchase, while your mother is
in the home, during all avoidance of

the problem, then fold carefully, making
sure contents do not spill. Put in a Ziploc
bag with moth balls. Tell some stories about it

and of course some jokes. Say,
I want you kids to have this.


Diane Schenker was a shy and solitary child. Thinking she would become socially adjusted, she ran away to join the theater. After many adventures and half a century later, she realized she was in fact still a shy and solitary child, and her social maladjustment wasn’t going to change. So she moved to New York City where no one would notice. She now happily puts pen to paper and wanders the woods of upstate Manhattan, keeping track of her avian neighbors. She is the author of a chapbook, Relation/Couch/Dreaming, and her poetry has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Gargoyle, SalonZine, VIA, and Writers’ Bloc.

“Heirloom” appears in our Winter 2012 issue.