Alice Baumgartner



The water falls from shore

like a dress falls from the shoulders

of a woman, leaving behind

a long-handled rake, a pewter spoon.


I move through the rooms

where my parents lived,

stripping the furniture from the house

like meat from the bone.


I sweep the floors, remembering

when I first heard the mattress

against the springs,

the sound of their bodies,

perfect as fish in the net.


Now the mattress is gone,

the cabinets are empty.

Now the tuna, left in the tin

for the cat, goes bad.


The shore is a woman,

legs wide as a wishbone,

and not even the spoon

has been taken.

Alice Baumgartner is the Gordon Grand Fellow in History at Yale University. Her work has been published in the Scholastic anthology We are Quiet, We are Loud and is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review.  She has received awards from the Atlantic Monthly and the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony.



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