I went so deeply into the dream,  
it might have been a different future. 
La vita nuova seeded in an old frame.  

I set the children’s beds by the windows 
so light might brush their shoulders  
and cheeks—so the moon might go 
with them, our moon  

old moon. The one they were born  
under—not the fierce red twins  
of days to come, swinging their 
wild elliptics.   

I bind the curtains in loose knots  
so birdsong will wake them  
and wind can river through the  
long hair of sisters,  

the salt scruff of their brother.  
For some reason the floors are bare.  
I lay down rugs: the pink, blue,  
the verdigris weave.   

On waking, it’ll be the first thing 
like stepping on moss before tearing  
out the screen door—for the creek  
with its silver herrings,   

for the ocean before currents warmed 
and fish rode in—glassy-eyed, belly up.  
Cold, the dear cold of the Atlantic  
thick with seals before  

a siege of sharks. What will, what might 
they remember? The saltbox cottage  
thrumming in wind like a gaff-rigged  
sailboat blown inland.   

Bay to marsh to meadow, beached 
on a hill of bayberry, pitch pine.  
The old world was ours. All of us 
under the one moon. 


Catherine Staples is the author of The Rattling Window and Never a Note Forfeit. A new poetry collection, Vert, is forthcoming from Mercer University Press in spring 2024. She teaches in the honors and English programs at Villanova University.

[Purchase Issue 26 here.]


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April 2024 Poetry Feature: New Metamorphoses

I know it’s October because I wear / shoes without socks. The air is good / to me & I sweat less through my shirts. / Entire days of trees on campus, of stray geese / crowding the grass near the traffic / circle like groupies, as if / the honking cars were a rock band.


At the laundromat the whir of machines, / whorled & busy, the pleasure & difficulty / of stillness     Waiting, sockless, I aspire to be / the cross-legged woman reading a magazine, / settled into her corner of time     I like her gray braid, / the way her skin sings.

two white daisies next to each other

Translation: Poems from The Dickinson Archive

No—posthumous—inquiry will manage—never—to see what I wrote. What I lost each time—to / discover what a home is: stiff body inside the openness it has created. No one will know how / much I insisted, how much I demanded—and with no defenses.