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I have stopped looking
for your face. Crow-black beak,
iridescent duck feathers, rough hide
of a whale—all this was beautiful
enough. You came to me
as an old man and I knew you
by your hands—they were soft
and cold as ash. And when you were
a woman, I heard the tremor in the way
you called for me. How could I explain
this to my sisters? A creature held
together by a name, and what kind
of husband is that? I was more
honest than a mirror, you said.


I imagined you once: sunlight
turning your hair to fox fur, red
freckles, neat white scars pulled taut
across a smile, bones that looked
like mine. This was my mistake.


After you are gone, I realize it is a freedom.
I collect all the mirrors in my house,
from the floor-length to the handheld wooden
one I love. I toss them in the pond, unbroken,
and watch as they slip below the glassy water.
Freedom, you once told me, brushing my wet hair
before dawn, is to go unseen
in a dark wood, to be a boat on a black sea,
a kite with no string, a bird
with no name at all.

Originally from Texas, Madeline Grigg is a queer poet with an MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. Her poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Barely South Review, Dream Pop Press, and elsewhere. Check out more of her work at
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