This selection, chosen by guest editor Alyse Bensel, is from Swan Wife by Sara Moore Wagner, released by Cider Press Review in 2022.
I can see myself peeling potatoes in the window, the light split by the frame in an x across my brow, a speckled robin’s egg, my face—we left the Christmas wreath out until Spring, and now a bird has built a nest, Styrofoam holly berries flank the twigs, the thin beak of the baby. How many times has our daughter pounded through the door and upset the balance of this world. Suddenly the driveway swamps, what were twigs turn into hollowed out ash trees, reaching up like skeletal arms, chewed lifeless by the emerald ash borer, serpentining out, all green and jeweled. There they are, and there is our little baby, in the pond moss wetland of the yard, all blonde amidst the fallen limbs, the jagged lines of timber. Sometimes she’ll scare the mother bird out of the nest with her shouts. She is separated from us by a door, by a moment, by a slant of light and shadow, by life and death. By god. We’re all just waiting to crack open or be emptied out, to be forced from our homes or windows, to destroy what we love because we need it, because we think we’re safe.
Sara Moore Wagner is the author of three prize winning full length books of poetry, Lady Wing Shot, winner of the 2023 Blue Lynx Prize (forthcoming in 2024), Swan Wife (Cider Press Review Editors Prize, 2022), and Hillbilly Madonna (Driftwood Press Manuscript Prize, 2022), and the author of two chapbooks, Tumbling After (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2022) and Hooked Through (2017). She is also a 2022 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient, a 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals and anthologies including Gulf Coast, Smartish Pace, Waxwing, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cincinnati Review, among others.
Alyse Bensel is the author of Rare Wondrous Things: A Poetic Biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (Green Writers Press, 2020) and three chapbooks. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, South Dakota Review, and West Branch. She serves as Poetry Editor for Cherry Tree and teaches at Brevard College, where she directs the Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference.
- The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Geographies of the Heart by Caitlin Hamilton Summie - December 6, 2023
- Interview with Alexa White, SAFTA Writer in Residence - December 5, 2023
- Project Bookshelf: Kenli Doss - December 5, 2023