Dani Smotrich-Barr, Photo Editor

Dani Smotrich-Barr, Photo Editor

Genealogy of the Fall

Mom and Dad gathered us at the edge

of forest where we played house,

picked plucked leaves of grass, sieved  

dirt through our hands. We breathed

deeply; fresh pine air sweet like

the broken boy

watching Douglas Fir

in the kitchen.


Suppose that we are the needles

connected to the tree—slowly browning and falling

to forest floor. Now we are fiddleheads curled so tight,

rising from the duff.


We are petrichor—a home

created just for us in the mud puddles,

not interlaced with the roots that kept us

grounded. We are flying. We plant

in the same soil. But suppose

a gust blew us past our plot.




Gathered at the edge of the forest

muted and monotone under the mossgilded hemlock

Papa set my piano on fire, the strings

whip the flames as Ivory

mourns its second death. A first love

ablaze. A boy in lipstick and red heels,

whose colors are to be charred black;

call it Nocturne in bruised black flats

with a righteous choice and it only took a fire,

the disappearance of lipstick. The death

of starlit music. He prays

to fall among the duff.

Revelations or North of Phoenix


She has reinvented your world at least twice


At five she told you to pray for the ocean;

you became a Christian.

At fourteen she told you that God wasn’t shit.


You sunk six years into the crimson stitches

of the church pew

for the revelation:


you don’t know what to believe.



Today, four generations of women sit at the table:


Helen (the guardian of family history), Verna (the painter and romantic),


Vicky (the gardener), Mary (the nurse),


Tiffany (who makes sure your father doesn’t fuck up),


Your sister (the activist – reason for this gathering).



“Somewhere on cedar planked

park bench, two men have committed

a crime against God and themselves”



Fifty-two minutes ago,

she walked herself

down the aisle

treble clefs gilding

her ears, great-

grandmother’s lace dress,

sweet smile

zero fucks.


You wipe tears streaming from your left cheek and meekly raise a toast,

“To her, for creating footsteps for me to walk in.”



It takes six years for you to realize you don’t know what you believe;

one day to realize they don’t believe in you.



Your father, inspired, stands for his second toast:

“Hallelujah, a 2015 vintage port.”



When they finally fished the gold earring out of the sink, clef’s coils constricted

curling around his collar. She had loved them, but

after he pushed her down eleven steps,

she loved herself enough to jump out the window.



Most of these people will not be at your wedding day

but they still come over and half-heartedly compliment

your black and white floral suit which screams

the redyellowpurple you brought into your life

the day you left.



He doesn’t get a final word.



The only witness you need is your sister,

who taught you to fight

with wings on fire.