An Elegy in Two Parts
Rachel Stone, Honorable Mention, Literary Non-Fiction
She was doing laundry,
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
so she steered it back to shore.
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.
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