Shannon Wagner


My daughter looks out the window at birds,
chirping a fluttering response as she pushes

her forehead against the glass. She's wearing
cat ears, perpetually living in her Halloween

costume. Her father daily ties the tail around her waist,
and draws her whiskers with my eyeliner. She perches

herself on the cedar chest beneath the window
next to Rocco, stalking with him, clicking her tongue,

twitching her whiskers. I tell her about how Aunt Rose and I
were ghosts once. I say we were ghosts once because once is all it takes.

I tell her how Rose and I laid shoulder-to-shoulder
on a bed. The room was blue-gray, like rain clouds.

It may have been cloudy. Rose and I held hands.
A man shot us between the brows. First her, then me.

It wasn't as loud as you'd think, I tell her. But we didn't really hear.
It didn't hurt because we didn't really feel.

We hid in a closet after.
The bullet holes looked like stamps of black ink.

I tell her we ran, and I don't have much time
because we have to keep running.

I tell her it's ok to draw hearts
all over her journal and not know what they mean.

That it's ok, when you're young, to love in parts.

Originally from Richlandtown, PA, Shannon Wagner currently lives in the Boston area where she's finishing her poetry thesis at Emerson College. She writes poetry reviews for Ploughshares, and her poems have appeared in The Fiddleback and Poet Lore (forthcoming).

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