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A quarterly international literary journal

Flood Elegy

/ Third Place, 2024 Plentitudes Prize in Poetry /      

My husband stands in army

fatigues and ballet flats,

wading through refuse.

I piss on a bar stool as if

to claim it. What was

given was also lost

in the flood, an excavation

that belongs equally

to burial. Now our levee

is this: an infestation

of fleas, cellar spiders

in the highest rafter,

the thunder mug, the money

spent on booze, the sound

but not meaning

of the word nunnery,

my ritualized discomfort.

It is my own eyes

that lie green with digging.

High in the mountains,

my husband built a homestead

and soured the lake

with geese. After the flood,

ghosts reigned the shiplap

siding, rearranged atoms

in the wood. What do we leave

and what do we take

to the train that is leaving,

any minute now, from

the station. I can imagine

going further north

with my perfectly-shaped

hat as the tamaracks

flicker on their blight.

Time is a doorless

phenomenon; like dust,

it can mean anything. Thus

the landscape blurs in motion

when my mind marks it still.


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