An Unlatched Square


We offered cold cloths for fever,

                                                salt for his throat,

                                                                                                water            for his railing heart—

                                    I held out my hand,

                                                                                    tucked his hair behind one ear.


He slept

                                                before the sun fell—

                                                                                    a plastic tube in his throat

                                                                                                so he could            breathe—


and dreamt of a stone room,

                                                            and felt himself



the boy with thistles in his blood—


we stood

                                                            at his feet,            and Death was there,

                                    beneath a scrap quilt

                                                                                                                        in the far corner,

                                                            needling an unlatched square;


                        her ring-necked dove

                                                                        nestled            in my collarbone—



                                                                                                                                                its beak in my hair.


His father’s bedside chair bore a groove in the floor.





                                                                        And on the eleventh day,

                                                                                                            when the tube was pulled out,

                                                                                                he woke—

            beryl eyes

                                    brimming light,

                                                                                                                        a covey of clouds.

Stacy R. Nigliazzo’s debut poetry collection Scissored Moon was published in 2013 by Press 53. It was named Book of the Year by The American Journal of Nursing. It was also listed as a finalist for Jacar Press’s Julie Suk Award and the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award for First Book of Poetry. She is co-editor of Red Sky, an anthology addressing the global epidemic of violence against women. Her website:

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