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past/present tense

by Eve Kagan

slowly dying now

            my godmother was a Broadway dancer

then fashion designer—


thicker than expected              vertebrae rectified

disfigured feet             hidden by Prada


the forgotten moves

         like a glacier across her face—stillborn skin

translucent as tissue paper

barely creased            


in 1956 she lined the inner rims

  of her eyes

white               so the back row could read

her expression             ushering the audience


          the story                                  with pointed toes


holes in her stockings             pink thread unraveling—plaques

          blocking neurons

from dancing              discord


you wonder

whether showtunes linger       stitched


into memory like the label on a blouse—

                brand   size                  care instructions

scratching imperceptibly

    between shoulder blades


she would                    cut it out


but her fingers             grow less nimble—wouldn’t want to tear

a seam             ruin the fabric


the last time I saw her             she was almost inaudible


descending      spine collapsing—a deflated accordion

in the wheelchair

she referenced me       in third person to no-one

             in particular—            I love her?

About the Author

Eve Kagan is a poet and trauma therapist. She writes at the intersection of her roles—offering words to the discovery, ambiguity, beauty, and brutality of being human. Her poems have been published by Cathexis Northwest Press, Eunoia Review, Amethyst Review, Lunate, Wild Roof Journal, Vineyard Literary, yolk, and Parks & Points & Poetry 2021.

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