by Beth Oast Williams

Aunt Kay sends me a card about stars,
hoping I’ll find religion

peeking through holes in the sky.
With symphony, she misspells,

as if hearing the orchestra of grief
tuning itself in my head.

She warns the ringing in my ears
could knock me down

but I’ve already spent too many days
with the lights out, walked

myself into a downstairs wall. I dare
have faith that memory can outweigh

my father’s absence. My aunt understands
silence, says it’s that odd space

at the end of a performance
before hands start clapping. No one

ever wants to be the first
to admit it’s over. But it’s time for me

to lift the needle out of this scratch,
stop every day from repeating

that slide into night, the way notes
arrange themselves into dissonant chords.

Beth Oast Williams’s poetry has been accepted for publication in Leon Literary Review, SWWIM Everyday, Pirene’s Fountain, Wisconsin Review, Glass Mountain, GASHER, Fjords Review, and Rattle’s Poets Respond, among others. Her poems have been long listed for Palette Poetry’s Sappho Prize and nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. Her first chapbook, Riding Horses in the Harbor, was published in 2020. She is a newly elected board member of The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia.