Callie Siskel

Time "Person of the Year" was "You."I was a sophomore in college. I held the mirror up to my friend.Outside a fraternity, I stood in a circle of women telling each other how pretty they were.On the walk back to my room, I passed a monument: water running over granite.The man I loved wanted me in his bed, so I could tell him he was exceptional.There is a difference between Echo and the spring: one repeats, one colludes.In his childhood bed, we had sex, and I turned bright red.He said, "Someone had a good time," and I knew it was over.I moved out of the dorm with a friend, paid less for the smaller room.At dinner, she said the chef was staring at her. I agreed.If I told you how she stranded me, the focus would shift to her, as it always did.There is beauty in submission, but it depends on what one gains from it.When a poet came to campus, old and failing, she bared herself like a wet stone drying.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Headshot of Callie Siskel

Callie Siskel is the author of Two Minds, published by W. W. Norton, and Arctic Revival, selected by Elizabeth Alexander for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship.

Her poetry appears in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, and the New York Review of Books. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

She holds an MFA from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and a PhD in Creative and Literature from the University of Southern California. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is a poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review Books.

Cover of Two Minds

New York, New York

"Direct but nuanced, tender but fierce, Callie Siskel’s Two Minds supposes that if we could see ourselves from just the right angle, we could understand our lives. Born of great loss, these precise lyrics do not aim at consolation alone; no, they struggle eloquently to put the pieces of a life together. Such is the true work of poetry. This is an enormous debut."
—Sally Keith, author of The Fact of the Matter

"Callie Siskel’s beautiful and spare poems in Two Minds traverse the delicate yet relentless landscape of grief.… These poems often instigate with a scene from memory or an observation, then they are propelled by the declarative, oftentimes in plain diction and clean syntax.… Maybe in the end, grieving is about the self; as Siskel astutely writes: ‘Vanity and grief / are closer than we think. // Grief’s call-and-response / a mirror of our own making.’ Siskel’s poems are wise and thoughtful, quietly evocative."
—Victoria Chang, author of Obit

"Two Minds is a stunning, singular debut. Deeply compelling, it is the wisest book I know about the ways grieving divides us from ourselves. These exquisitely written poems chart with delicacy and nuance the passage we face entering that hall of mirrors appearing before us after great loss. Yet Two Minds is also a poetic reflection on the wholeness we reconstruct upon reentering the world.… An instant classic."
—David St. John, author of The Last Troubadour

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.