Sept/Oct 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 5 Poetry |

Mise en Abyme

The Kenyon Review · "Mise En Abyme" by Callie Siskel I was a lot to carry in summer. High winds shook the round windows for which the hospital is known. It was a Saturday, midday; I was upside-down. They cut her open to lift me out. The swaddle and hat were too small, so I was wrapped inside a towel. My name pleased both sides of the family — a shared consonance with my mother’s father, an overall sound with my father’s mother. I came home to a sister who thought I belonged to someone else. “Marie,” she said to the nurse, “you forgot your baby.” Somewhere on earth is my matryoshka doll. Rarely did I open her: I preferred to hear her wooden offspring knocking around inside — the son with the broom and the daughter with a scythe. The baby in the patchwork quilt, I pitied—it would never hold anything. My grandmother, the youngest of her siblings, fled Russia as a child and brought nothing with her. She remembers her bedroom being black. She never carried my

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.
Photo of Callie Siskel
Callie Siskel is the author of Arctic Revival (Poetry Society of America, 2022), winner of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. Her poems appear in The AtlanticPloughsharesA Public Space, and other journals. She is a 2020–22 Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Dornsife Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.