Elisavietta Ritchie

Cecelia Was Born in Chicago And This Imprinted on Her Life

Volume 14:4, Fall 2013
Prose Poem Issue

Cecelia Was Born in Chicago And This Imprinted on Her Life

They say I was conceived in a snow storm: a sailor stuck in the ice. He walked away over the lake like Jesus on frozen seas. My mother never gave her right name…Age six, trying to find my father, I tunneled through snow drifts and created snow angels on Lake Shore Drive, traffic mired in snow, and so was I.

Sent to school, I exploded the Chemistry Lab –the teacher, a scientist fled from Berlin, forgave me, kindled my love for science, and for men with accents and stories to tell….

Invited to sing before the whole school, I sang. Everyone laughed. Never again have I sung.

But I learned to write, to experiment, dance on the stage, think on my feet, and discover logical solutions: When the last bridge toll costs two bucks and you must nickel-and-dime it but you’re a dime short, you dive in.


Elisavietta Ritchie has translated poems mainly from Russian and French, but also Macedonian, Malay and Indonesian. Seventeen of her poetry collections have been published, including Guy Wires (Poets' Choice Publishing, 2015), Tiger Upstairs on Connecticut Avenue (Cherry Grove, 2013), Feathers, Or, Love on the Wing (Sheldon Studios, 2013), From the Artist's Deathbed (WinterHawk Press, 2012), Cormorant Beyond the Compost (Cherry Grove, 2011), and Real Toads (Black Buzzard Press, 2008). She served as President of Washington Writers' Publishing House from 1983 to 1986, and president of their fiction division from 2000 to 2010. Ritchie founded Wineberry Press. She edited the anthologies The Dolphin's Arc: Endangered Creatures of the Sea (SCOP Publications, 1989), and Finding the Name (Signal Books, 1983). A co-founder with Myra Sklarew of A Splendid Wake, an organization to honor deceased poets in the Greater Washington Area, she works currently as a writer, editor, mentor, workshop leader for creative writing, journalist, photographer, poet in the schools and translator.www.elisaviettaritchie.com To read more by this author, see poems from the Fall 2002 issue, and her essays on Betty Parry and John Pauker.