originally published in the Fall/Winter 2020 issue of South 85 Journal. Awarded First Runner-up in the 2020 Julia Peterkin Literary Prize for Poetry

the first corner to lift was the dining room

where candles were lit, wine sipped

plans made, tears shed, voices raised,

more than one plate thrown down

for the pleasure of watching it break

could rain do that, they asked?

flood a basement, sure

sneak in under a loose roof shingle

drip from the ceiling into the pot

one of them finally got up to put in place

saying for god’s sake, enough is enough!

next came the back stairs

floating away without a sound,

and so became called the “silent separation”

a cause for wonder, certainly awe, until

the inconvenience of having to climb

in and out of windows darkened the mood

the front door might have been accessible

if it weren’t facing a muddy lake they hadn’t seen rise —

for all the time they’d been wondering if

they could go on, if there were anything left to hold onto

the rain kept falling, the earth kept melting,

even the trees went under, and took the birds down too

they stood before the attic window and watched

the water flow toward the ladder they’d just climbed

and marveled at how ignorant they’d been, back in the beginning

when the sky was clear and the ground always dry

time to go, she said and raised the window

he asked if she were just going to leave him there to drown

she looked him over, and thought he’d never been what

she’d bargained for, then of the life she’d have as a

single mermaid, and said no, she wasn’t

and that maybe now was a good time to

teach him how to swim

Writer & Poet. Find me at anneleighparrish.com

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