The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: How to Prove a Theory by Nicole Tong

Having made gravel a kind of home
for sixty miles of footwork I imagine
my father alive each time the Park Police helicopter circles
the Potomac beside the towpath. Imagine how measured
the cargo when he operated a twin-engined monster
(in the 70s his silence not a soldier’s heart but shell shock).
Near a Marine base in North Carolina my nephew monitors
weather on this side of the mountains. He texts when he suspects
changing trail conditions. Careful, Nicole, a chinook
may be coming by which he means wind. But such a coincidence
is not geographically precise on this Appalachian stretch,
a country away from the correct coast. A year since
I spent hours plucking feathers from a hospice bed
were it possible to construct a bird to rise up and greet the dead.

This selection comes from the collection How to Prove a Theory, available from Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Order your copy here or here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Nicole Tong is the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sundress Academy at Firefly Farms, and George Mason University where she received her MFA. In 2016, she served as an inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Pope-Leighey House, a Frank Lloyd Wright property in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a recipient of the President’s Sabbatical from Northern Virginia Community College where she is a Professor of English. Her writing has appeared in CALYX, Cortland Review, Yalobusha Review, and Still: the Journal among others. Tong received a Dorothy Rosenberg Award has been nominated for a Pushcart prize.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at

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