Katharine Johnsen


The caller ID read GOLF MAGAZINE and from the doorway
        I watched her answer. Golf Magazine doesn’t know

they are trying to renew the subscription
        of a dead man. A loyal subscriber, organized packrat,

he stacked back issues between the wall and the bed
        in the guest room certain someone—my brother,

my uncle—might want them someday. He never allowed
        a subscription to lapse; now, they arrive with the paper

around the glossy cover that reads: FINAL ISSUE!
        RENEW HERE!
 And my grandmother just wants

them to run out, to stop filling the mailbox she dreads checking.
        He must have renewed them when he got sick, one more thing

he knew to take care of. To her, they are clutter—weekly and monthly
        reminders of his absence, magazines lacking their reader.

She answers the phone, No, this is Mrs. Stearns,
        and spreads her fingers out on his nightstand.

He is unable to come to the phone right now. 
        She assures them she’ll pass on the message.

Katharine Johnsen recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing as the Bernice Kert Fellow at the University of North Carolina Wilmington; she received her BA from Emory University. She is the recipient of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere.