Salamander 2024 Fiction Contest

SUBMIT: May 1 through June 2, 2024 | READING FEE: $15


A Break with Specifics

Virginia Smith Rice
| poetry


A small space opens inside Tennessee,
perennial-ready. At the last moment I manage to stay
by the window, looking further.

Whose body is that being sent back to ground?
And how terrible to hear it speak
fluent silent. I need help

to reframe this – I mean there, in the upper
left, where we all are headed.
Red, kiss me goodnight and place

a warm hand on my brow. Clothe my eyes
with your salt and strike a bright, open chord –
I’ve grown tired of tiny noises.

In sleep, the blue bowl is bluer
as it slides through its reflection. I keep weeding
the winter garden, broken ice

and snow under my nails. Let’s not go in.
It frightens me, this permission
written between lives waiting to be

lifted from mirror to mirror.
Doors come and go. And children,
bringing doors of their own, alive to the light.

My eyes are closed. Who, my red wonders, is leaving?

Virginia Smith Rice is the author of When I Wake It Will Be Forever (Sundress Publications, 2014). Her poems appear in Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, and Meridian, among other journals. She is co-editor of the poetry journal Kettle Blue Review and associate editor at Canopic Publishing.

Infant Boy 1895
The Arborist