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An Elegy in Two Parts

Rachel Stone, Honorable Mention, Literary Non-Fiction

I.

She was doing laundry,

throwing shirts

in the river

and scrubbing them cold.

He sent her a letter once,

wrinkled with gunpowder and

Afghanistan. She couldn’t get

his return address so she let his colors

bleed together and tumble dry, red

on the rocks and her hands.

She had found a seashell in the shape

of a sailboat and climbed

aboard, thought she would sail to him –

But the maps were useless

without stamps

so she steered it back to shore.

She remembered

sparrowing when she was young.

The sparrow, felled,

wept on white lattices of snow.

His shirts strewn

across the laundry rocks

were so red,

like those pictures of fallen soldiers

that always win Pulitzers.

 

II.

Orpheus dreamed of perfect sound,

her hair strung through meteors – how

each strand would sing when plucked.

They had burned their tongues

on Turkish coffee, spent the train ride

home trying silent speech.

Closing his eyes, he saw her limbs

violined across stalactites, rings of moons

and ankles as he prayed for stuff

stronger than lyres.

He feels the sand now against

his skin and imagines each grain

a constellation, his body hammocked

against the tremulous night.

Death never leaves

his fingernails, and he finds

Eurydice’s bobby pins

everywhere.

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