Back to Issue Forty-Four

Two Winters



It’s surprising you’ve never been with a woman,
I said to her just as the lake revealed itself

in the window. It was frozen over,
a field of snow.

The night we kissed against the wall
it was winter again. I see more clearly

in these months, she told me,
her house full of slush and ruined pine.

There are many versions of me:
one that likes to be tied up with intricate knots,

another that can’t stand to be touched.
I try not to create likeness of her, attach her to beautiful things.

The time we walked around a false lake
I imagined slipping in,

being forgotten or remembered, not knowing
the difference.

The men we love walked in front of us,
she pointed to a heron that stood

at the edge of the water. I pretended to see it.
I keep trying to see it.


I Would Be a Selfish Mother



In a dream it was simple: I had many dark haired
children and I had them in water. It wasn’t a question

of what I would lose. Some things are sure: moss
grows north on trees, snow’s quick ruin. I’ve spent my life

saying yes, apologizing to strangers over nothing. Once
I lived in a place whose language was made of shapes

I did not know. In the morning I walked through a field of wheat
that scratched my hips. At night I placed a stack of coins under my bed

to spend on tea on paper on water spinach. I barely ever spoke,
gesturing like a wind-caught bird. I was happy there.


Natalie Dunn is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her fiction, poetry, and criticism have appeared in The Believer, Triangle House, Conduit, The Adroit Journal, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is the senior fiction reader at The Yale Review and a fiction candidate at NYU.

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