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Katharine Johnsen

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BIRTHDAY

by Katharine Johnsen

                     Boca Raton, March 1995

Clasping my hand around my grandfather's, I pulled him from a 
doze
to rehearse; he was my Daddy Warbucks and I was turning seven,
obsessed with Annie. When he wanted to know how we should 
celebrate,

I said, a party with my friends. I hear her voice now, my grandmother
asking, What friends do you have down here? and my answer: Leah and 
Harry, Shirley and Jules, Arleen and Harold. So my grandparents' 
closest friends

came to my birthday party, couldn't eat the cake because of their 
diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure. In a drawer is a photograph 
my grandmother took that night: Shirley leaning against the door, 
the others sitting, watching

as my grandfather and I dance and sing to a cassette tape
of the cast recording. I am only the floating hem of a navy
polka-dotted skirt as if it twirls out of the frame on its own.

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Katharine JohnsenKatharine Johnsen studies and teaches at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she is the recipient of the Bernice Kert Fellowship. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Birmingham Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She was recently awarded a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and earned her BA from Emory University.

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