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by Kristan LaVietes

The thing in the seashell slips back

in the sea. Where it sank is reflected

a flock of geese, like a matador


flagging his cape. Life

on my houseboat carries on. Today

I clean the deck. Sometimes my spirits


are lifted by Murphy’s Oil Soap

or Lestoil, which smell like light.

But I’m not doing well today.


I spent an hour in the closet already.

I forced myself to venture out, to walk

the beach and bring back


the conch, photograph it in color.

Its blue shell and pink operculum

astonished the black backdrop,


but now I’ve let it go, I had to let it go.

Sometimes I don’t do well.

The geese are gone. The neighbor wrens


return with a shoelace, a treasure.

The old woman one mooring over watches

everything I do and nods severely


if I catch her eye. At the mailboxes once,

she whispered to me, “See the bride. She is

an old woman,” Now she coughs. We both


look over to where a picnic

has been left on the dock, and a peach

rolls into the dark water.

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Kristan LaVietes is a poet living in Alameda, an island city in California's Bay Area. She is the co-owner of an indie greeting card company and parent to two feral children. Her work has been published in “Pearl,” “Nerve Cowboy,” “The Savannah Literary Journal,” “Texas Poetry Journal,” “Moria,” “Wild Roof Journal,” and “Isotope.”

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