about the author

Cara Dees holds an MFA degree from Vanderbilt University and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas. A former English teacher in France and editor at Nashville Review, she is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Indiana Review, The Journal, Southern Humanities Review, Unsplendid, Waxwing Literary Journal, and other publications.

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Cara Dees

You say you always planned on dying on the deck in the summer, surrounded by flowers

As if thought could make it so, could swell
your light, domesticate or expel a hounding dark,

all seasons become one green, to-be-opened
asylum. Look, now—there are no watchtowers

unbarring their warmth to your lessening breath.
No heavy sun arranges himself for you;

he wills his head down to whitening meadow.
Already the smooth goodbyes you arranged

in your mind for years are undeliverable.
They hollowed when you did. Look out, now—

this land is dazed. It is vast and without sound.


You say I’m the one who’ll have to live with it

Live with—what? The cracked iris garden.
The timothy fields, rigid with winter, dwarfed

with debt. Your herds of dreamy, opaque horses.
No, those I love like my own chapel. It is not

field or garden or horse. And you—you will
un-live with—what? You who will pierce new

and desolate arteries unlike any summer bird
diving the water. You who will grow expert

in soliloquy, its falling tides and full poverty.
It is not our danger. It is only the after-storm,

the river already stolen from the shore.


You say you wanted to see what I would be like when I was thirty

Strange, the hour bitten-off, or clipped like
wild fowl. How things of basic fortune

unpin from us: the bronzed sage resown,
my voice large and gentle with age, your hair

at last shouldering its genuine white. Remember
when you bloomed thirty, alone on ruined

farmland, and not-alone also, a small human
crescent waxing its speech inside you.

If my middle self, stolen from the center
of my life, met you then, our faces

would enter one another—a mirror’s offering,
origin and replica, signature and plagiarist.

We would mingle and divorce like those
spires of dry sage, their ardency,

my every sigh seamless with your sigh.


You say you can’t wake up

As you face me with eyes out-of-memory,
the iced windows singing with atomic severity.

A wilderness whistles among blue grooves.
It has blanched the hickory of its doves.

In you there is too much silence. It is burning
the you away. Under the god-stare, all

that is marrow, all that is not cloud, strains.
Bare as a needle, you thin to the great Round.

Dear reader, don’t leave. You’re my last witness.

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