poetryrepairs 16.02:015

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : Evening
DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : Uncle

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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) 

is a precious angle for a hushed occurrence, a bruise prodded for the ache. After the postmaster locks his door, and his tires eddy the gravel parking lot, cigarette ends multiply in the alcove of mailboxes, available all night, and girls in flip-flops test the strangeness of distance, see how far they can walk down this road without needing to look back, without longing for what wouldn’t fit in their purses—ripped carnival tickets, plastic neon rings, bottle caps they salvaged from the border of each excursion, scattered in an empty drawer. Neither looks back, even as the sun withdraws its orange blades from between trees, and twilight fills the gaps, singes the borders of their known world, edges of poplar leaves they gather to mark thresholds, a kind of distance. That square ghost lingers ahead, whiter in dusk than in mid-day, a last good tooth at the gorge’s rim, inoperative. Beneath feeble skins of rooms, habit churns at the border of completion—stamps unspool from a drawer, a sponge stays wet in its crystalline bowl, envelope edges graze the windows of boxes. Tonight, the alcove is a magician’s closet where the older girl turns the grooved knob on a single box, intuits the permutations of A-J, till the door falls open. In a trick of strange headlights, their father’s writing inks her palms with his name, with intentions that shift beneath her skin.

poetryrepairs #221 16.02:015

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) 

The sister had left her girlhood snagged on a white oak before the brother claimed his thirties. Around their mother’s cast-iron fire, he welcomed his wife and the thought of the son, growing flaxen and hale in the birth mother’s womb. In a photo of an egg hunt, this child will triumph, his basket rich with green and violet. Around his head, two clouds will fix a chute of sun, a diadem discerning him from dark-haired cousins. The sister looked through window, through trees, for something white, or maybe grey by now, trembling between trunks. And the mother hated the brother’s offering of cake on a Melmac tray, his stirring of cinders toward the low plank ceiling. She said birds ought to warble in trees, but this one, a gift from him, plucked the bars of its cage and roused her from dreams of their father. The brother clutched his mother’s complaint in a fist, snatched it cleanly from its cage, plucked canary head from beryllium-winged body and pitched them into the fire before anyone could breathe a startled syllable. No one but the year-younger sister remembered. How he had flouted bed rest and mumps, somersaulted the length of his narrow bed, over motherly warnings of the ways his disease ruined little boys. How furtively he traversed the woods, muting twigs underfoot, an indigenous stealth inherited by males and used for hunting his sister each time he whispered nightmares to no one but her: bombers droning in clouds above their farm, leagues of children singing and circling campfires built by men—each flame a singular furor the size of a boy his own age, tribute to the rule of piecemeal reform and the muscle reaped by surprise maneuvers. Even urgings of terror fainter than blitzkriegs bred contentment once my mother cried— her voice rasping the bark of a well-climbed oak— once Sister thrashed or whimpered, ceded to the calloused grip of Brother, his palm’s tender bull’-eye sealing her breath.

poetryrepairs #221 16.02:015


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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)