Some days I don’t recognize myself—when

I step from the shower and catch a glimpse

of my face clouded with steam


and all I have from all of my yesterdays is

a smudge on an old polaroid—as if a pair of bees

could remember themselves out of honeycomb,


having fallen to the ground—I don’t know

who I am, not just the story of who I am—

the secrets I need answers to are watching


from the cedar-limbs by a pair of blackbirds

hidden in snow.  Even the cupboards could hold

a gentle sheen or a soft glow, as if


a chain of memories could be mended, once

broken, when the moonlight pierces the reeds

and paints the sea the muddled green of grief.


If I chose to tread through this endlessness,

I’d start to imagine waves crashing and then

slowly molding a long white beach—


How do we hold ourselves against the abyss?



Eric Stiefel

Eric Stiefel is a Cuban-American Ph.D. candidate at Ohio University, though he received his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where he also served as the 2017-2018 Junior Poetry Fellow. Eric was named the winner of the 2018 Sequestrum New Writer Awards and a finalist in the 2018 Penn Review Poetry Prize and the 2020 Third Coast Poetry Contest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Apple Valley Review, Prism Review, The Literary Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere.

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