To go back is as hard almost

as forward.


We all got a little silence lodged

in our molars some time


in middle school, mostly.

Field trips to the museum of future affairs,


long bus rides, behind the glass

our taxidermied bodies


in frozen poses of parenting,

pharmacy lines, conference rooms.


On the ride back we did not discuss it and also

there was no ride back.


We lived there in the museum, locked in,

setting fires in the courtyard to keep busy.


No one came for us

and we liked it that way.


Wrapped our fists in the curtains,

broke the glass,


hauled out our own effigies.

Only warmed them by the fire.


To go forward is much

harder than backward but also less impossible.


They came for us, pounded on the doors,

begged and begged.


We would not budge. Not locked in

but them locked out.


The smoke they thought

was signal was just s’mores.


In the basement canned food

for any number of eternities.


Draped our arms around

ourselves and sang songs


we didn’t know yet.

The silence dried up,


our teeth gleamed, a new silence

came to cushion us.


It was different, springier,

a shared give in the air.


Oh, sure, there must be lots we’re missing,

but we’d just be missing more


out there. We’ve seen enough.

No season left to tempt us.


Katherine Tunning lives in Boston with her partner and a highly variable number of cats. Some of her recent poetry has appeared in Red Rock Review, Prime Number Magazine, and The Westchester Review. Her work has been nominated for the Sundress Best of the Net anthology and the Pushcart Prize and awarded the 2020 Penn Review Fiction Prize. You can find her online at


Katherine Tunning

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