Eleanor Stanford

Contest - 2nd Place

Eleanor Stanford is the author of two collections of poetry, Bartram’s Garden and The Book of Sleep. Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and many others. She is a 2014/2016 Fulbright fellow to Brazil, where she is researching and writing about traditional midwifery. She lives in the Philadelphia area.


November, your metal teeth

shine all night. The harmonica’s unspeakable
wheeze, brace at his neck as though
he’d been in a terrible
accident. November, our boys
learned to play hearts. I heard them muttering
to each other: Where’s the bad lady? and
You can’t play hearts until hearts
have been broken
. Maybe
you could just say the one word,
the therapist said. Just the one. You.
But he couldn’t.
November, I painted my fingernails
black. November, I stood on one leg
in yoga class and cried.
Thanksgiving, I drank too much wine
and tried to disappear. There was another ship, not
the Mayflower, our son said, and that one sank,
and all the people died. Under the covers, the boys
showed their hands. You’re bleeding,
they said. Hearts have been broken,
they reminded each other. November,
your moon bends around me, a bright
and limber harmonica, full of teeth.
A thin letter, undeliverable. You.