Last Dance

A Poem by Melissa Studdard

I wanted to take a selfie with the world 
but her black eye could not be covered

nor the midnight in her gait so I asked
her to dance instead. Two moons in her

feet, two stars, two phosphorescent fish—
how they swam across her strange islands, 

dragging behind them lines of tackle and bait. 
Protruding from her side, an arrow fletched

with mottled turkey feathers bled splinters
and dust around her own scarred-over wound.

She did not cry as she lifted her broken
and bangled arm to drape across my shoulder 

but it was then I saw she was bleeding from 
her nose and breathing shallow, arrhythmic

waves of pain. On her banks, squid and starfish 
washed up dead and slicked in black. Who did

this to you? I asked, thinking of revenge. She 
pointed, then, at me, rewrapped her arms around 

my neck, and we began our next dance as one
bold shadow against the petrochemical glow.

*Originally published in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts

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A Poem by Joan Gelfand

She won’t sell the country house. Not yet!

And not because of Locust Lake, sailboats in summer.

Alders in snow. Not because of the long view of the Poconos,

Those graduating waves of forest green fading

To watery sage tiered like a chiffon dress.

Lost in those folds, the dizzy roller coaster

Of marriage, sickness, the push pull of desire.

Paul planted peonies. She, a lover

Of woodblock prints, bamboo, and toro nagashi:

 Lit lanterns set free on a river.

Her tears water the earth where peonies proliferate.

In life, he betrayed, but in death transmogrified,

Missed. At night, she denied him the touch

The skin he craved. You can’t have it both ways,

She reminded. Just now, she wants it exactly

Both ways. Perfect in life. Perfect in death.

Now that he’s gone, her loneliness blooms. Tissue thin,

She is married to the million petalled profusion of pink.

The peonies are her private toro nagashi, his soul reunited

With hers. She needs, him, and his perfect peonies.

“Besides,” she cries, “It’s such a short season.”

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A Poem by Sandra Kohler

Cold and another storm

coming, the weather liminal,

littoral. I dream of shores

and memory, of my sister

suddenly more herself,

remembering. Re-member.

Re-embody. Reincarnate

the body of the past.

Bodies are precious.

The Syrian child, a girl,

on the front page of this

morning’s Times, come

home from school to find

no home. Her house razed,

nothing is said about her

family: where were they,

were they killed, does she

have a family living,

a living family?

She is pale, stunned, her

eyes empty. Her shawls,

bead necklace look like

those my five year old

granddaugher, Katie,

would wear, an array

mirroring a fey


Katie, who yesterday

comes down alone to

our rooms, assuming an

independence new to her,

fragile but precious, to

visit her plants, which

I’ve kept safe here from

the predations of

her little dog.

I can keep those

plants safe. They

are not children.

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