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Current Issue Features issue 31 poetry

Bridge

by Jenny Molberg

Entropy by Cynthia Yatchman

Bridge

Ann Bryan, 1911–1994. Murdered, St. James Place Retirement Community, Baton Rouge.

The women take their places at the bridge table,
this day without Ann. North, West, East.

I study Ann’s black hair, a curled wreath, in the book
about her killer. Her large glasses exalt the kind

of eyes that speak. What right do I have
to think about Ann? Her painting

of a magnolia—the carpels, red and yellow
anemones cradled in a bed of white petal-spoons.

She is the killer’s first victim. Small like the others:
her sewing kit, her purple quilt, the portable wooden floor

where she danced Zydeco. Why wouldn’t I think
of my own grandmother? Ann, born without a right hand,

brushing light with paint on her blue still-life bowl.
A hand that danced the whole keyed black-and-white road.

My grandmother’s hands: arthritic, manicured, always
fisted. In bridge, my grandmother plays South.

My grandmother is the Declarer. She will give
until all that is left is her body.

When her son, my uncle, says she is selfish,
that his mess of a life is her fault, she believes him.

Once he bought a car with her money
and gave me my first lesson in threat.

I was twelve. I sat pretty. Kept all his secrets
while he drove, vodka balanced between his knees.

I rehearsed my praise,
how handsome he was, how rich.

Ann, I am sorry. There is no way
to elegize a person you don’t know.

I can’t even save my own grandmother.
But I have to try.

Jenny Molberg is the author of three poetry collections: Marvels of the Invisible (Tupelo Press, 2017), Refusal (LSU Press, 2020), and The Court of No Record (forthcoming from LSU Press, 2023). An NEA fellow, her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in VIDA, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, AGNI, Oprah Quarterly, and other publications. She is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and edits Pleiades magazine.

Cynthia Yatchman is a Seattle-based artist and art instructor. She shows extensively in the Pacific Northwest. Past shows have included Seattle University, the Tacoma and Seattle Convention Centers, and the Pacific Science Center. Her art is housed in numerous public and private collections.