Back to Issue Thirty-One



When I start to believe you are gone
I put on the Beethoven String Quartets
you left me and 132’s slow movement
folds me into a long and leafless evening,
and I place my hands deep
in your moccasins which I have not
moved from the rocker’s seat
and I wear them that way for a minute,
ridiculous mittens, then put them
back, nestle them close as veterans
sharing identical scars, and with the heel
of my palm, I nudge the stuck bay window
and behold the courtyard maple’s shy motion
and the limbs that are sick
with black spots, and behold
the inadvertent power of clouds, how
they break from their shapes that mean
nothing, not peasants haggling not lions
or a brideless wedding procession, and
disperse to the place that no one
need ever remember.





Who were you beyond a flannel shirt
over a typewriter, hummed tune
that annoyed all the humming
lights in the kitchen, teabags always
used twice? Who were you beyond
your cancer’s marauding cells, your bones
split in two like birch trees
struck by vengeance disguised
as lightning? Who, when the words
had gone, beyond a man
in a bed, a choir of white-bottled
eyedrops, dusty rack of good wines
stashed too long in a closet? Were you not
the mist that draped its unmendable cloak,
time and again around my shoulders
and the figure alone in the weak sun,
shivering? Were your asking fingers not
the intimate cluster of snowdrops, brave
as braille, touching winter’s end
year after year, with quiet,
green words, as if it would make
any difference?




Frannie Lindsay’s sixth volume, The Snow’s Wife, is forthcoming from Cavankerry Press later this year. Her others are If Mercy, Our Vanishing, Mayweed, Lamb, and Where She Always Was. Her honors include the Benjamin Saltman Award; the Washington Prize; the May Swenson Award; and The Missouri Review Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Lindsay’s work appears in the Atlantic Monthly, The American Poetry Review, The Yale Review, Field, Plume, and Best American Poetry. She teaches workshops on grief and trauma. She is a classical pianist.

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