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The Sound of Ribs Is / A Wren's Nest

Alina Stefanescu

The last time I saw your coffin, I ticked like those

crickets we counted, our backs 

pressed, sweating invocations against hot cement. 

My daughter's voice is solid aluminum, the hue of 

fork before swallowing

entire streets choired by kudzu.

Beaded with green plastic bins.

You left me pinestraw, Cowboy 

Junkies, rotting plums, the taste of terror

going metal in a mouth. 

The first row of breaths after rain

Dying young, disappearing like leaves from a child's mind

                                                                                                                            / A Wren's Nest

                                                                                                                            The wry village of

                                                                                                                            my mama's laughter: 

                                                                                                                            it's ribbed little cage. 

                                                                                                                            And rumor twigged 

                                                                                                                            in the wren's reveille. 

                                                                                                                            Ripped from the risk

                                                                                                                            of running away 

                                                                                                                            is a way of saying 

                                                                                                                            home is sloped 

                                                                                                                            abruptly, a riddle

                                                                                                                            she left us, a ramp

                                                                                                                            into ruined tree

                                                                                                                            maps. Where is 

                                                                                                                            our family. Set the

                                                                                                                            wrench near  

                                                                                                                            the fulcrum. Tie 

                                                                                                                            the fork to the

                                                                                                                            dish. The last 

                                                                                                                            one who leaves 

                                                                                                                            is a phantom. 

                                                                                                                            Whose is this 

                                                                                                                            sound, scherzo

                                                                                                                            of ribs. And the re-

                                                                                                                            past, this. Abyss. 

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Poetry Editor for Random Sample Review, Poetry Reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Co-Director of PEN America's Birmingham Chapter. She was nominated for 5 Pushcart Prizes by various journals in 2019. A finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize, Alina won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize. She still can't believe (or deserve) any of this. More online at

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