Back to Issue Thirty-Nine

I Could Have Danced All Night


Runner-Up for the 2021 Adroit Prize for Poetry
Selected by Carl Phillips


I could have done a thousand things in the Jewish cemetery.
The bodies folded into little boxes.
All the names sounded of: Goldstein, Greenberg,
get in the closet behind the woolen bodysuits.

What has become of my father?
Is he hiding behind the pressed shirts?

There is his eye
in my breast pocket.
His stone hand grazes
this living hand.

Come out, come in, wherever you’ve been!

Where is my father?
Asleep in the dandelions?

I have tried under the rug and behind the shower curtain.
All his life, I never spoke. He splayed his warm palm on the top of my mouth.


The Alphabet



All summer, my father broke the skin of his veins and I
broke open the box of edible arrangements. Became
catatonic, palmed out rationed chips at breakfast. Waited for
delivery! It was just the calla lilies. The petals wilted
everywhere, my chores were folding at the hip to cover
furniture in plastic. Aching at the knees, I signed the funeral
guest book, played the guest game: Oh,
hello, Happiness! Here, hold my coat,
I have to choke on a butterscotch and set my legs on fire.
Joke, take it! Dinner, eat it!
Knock me out and twist me into
lashing, Happiness. Tie me down,
maybe, tuck me in. Maybe, turn of
news of war so I can go to the store.
Out my tongue came words from the soft
palate. I rub charcoal on paper over rusty
quarters and expect the Great Pyramids to appear,
repeat the days until there are none,
send thank you stationary to guests
thinking well of my black dress. Lately I have been
useless, like the knees of my dead father. I unplugged his
veins from his veins and attached them to mine, but
what else helps my back pain these days?
X-acto to my turtleneck,
yes when the undertaker asks for a signature,
zero-shaped zoloft, a zipper undone.


Delilah Silberman is from New York City. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bat City Review, Guesthouse, and Hobart. She is a MFA candidate in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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