Fall 2023

In The Play We Are Blossoms That Close Each Night

By Nathan Slinker

On your twentieth birthday,
             we were chopping wood
in the driveway and had gone through two cords when,
as I swung the maul down,
a white finch with a gray head landed on the rings.

There was nothing I could do.
              There will be
nothing we can do.

Black figures
push a scene offstage:
           away rolls the table where
the chipped childhood is set in mosaic,
on it the heartwood ashtray, the bruised
pages of a cheap mystery.
            Gone too, our mother’s
favorite geranium,
the footstool that wept in October,

even the wreath of hair flowers
               from dead family members—
all into the wings with hardly a breath.


Nathan Slinker has published poems in many literary magazines and journals including Third Coast, Mid-American Review, The Greensboro Review, and Kenyon Review Online. He has been a Fishtrap fellow, a semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize and he was a finalist for New River Press’s Many Voices Prize. He owns and manages a nursery and market garden in rural, Eastern Oregon.

Fall 2023