Every year I have the honor of choosing the finalists for the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction. I’ve been doing this as long as we’ve been running the contest, and despite the fact that it always seems to fall during my vacation, it’s something that I always look forward to. If nothing else, it is a purposeful reminder of how capricious the publishing process is.
In your sailor hat and peacoat, you cross
the asphalt and see what you thought
was your home is an old wooden boat.
I give up on wrestling my hair
into a limp, submissive, dead-straight
On her 63rd birthday, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive a barrel ride over Niagara Falls. When asked, she later said, “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces, than make another trip over the Fall.”
two bodies resting
two bodies at rest, faces to the light,
Years after your death a magazine
emailed: “We want you back, Viola.”
I whistle when I drive my car—”Hava
Nagila,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,”
Pure as stars swimming through wet winter sky,
It was mid-summer, 1972, when I was 12 years old, that my parents sold our small row home on Clarion Street in South Philadelphia. They bought a finer row home in a suburban development dubbed Briarcliff, which rested in the Delaware County town of Glenolden.
The boys drown in the pond on Myrtle Dag’s property. Windmills, the two of them, arms and rocks and driftwood and pinecones painting the water with rings and diagrams and dusk, and then the postures of dare, pulleys for shoulders, rope for arms, run farther and throw farther, hoot and shout and leap, catch the rock, the pinecone, farther, and still farther. Dive to save the boy who takes the dare.