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Madeleine French

Edge Stitch

I move my needle &

lengthen the stitch, let

the edge foot guide my work

My topstitching’s perfect

like stripes on a highway

(rayon thread, just the right sheen)

How is it that now, when

any mistakes I’ve ripped out

are bad memories

I still listen for the rattle

that says the bobbin tension

is off: something like

Loose quartz, banging

around a rock tumbler

something like regret


The earrings Abuela Blanca wore

when she left Havana

are mine now

lever backs in a vintage setting

perfect oval gems, named

for water

How many different shades

of blue is the water in Cuba?

I’ll count them for you

in the mirror

Second Emily

By Second Emily’s

ICU bed

I recited First Emily’s

poems backwards

line by line, checking my

ragged memory against my Kindle

How could I imagine—

choosing the name

that a quarter century

later, First

might ease my harrowing

anguish over Second?

Every neurologist

used the magic word:


the brain creates new pathways,

they said—they were right

When First Emily was wrong

Hope isn’t strong enough

—my clumsy wrist

might snap those wings

in one unfortunate flick—

Second Emily

in Extremity withstood the gale,

and the electrical

brainstorms afterward—

Whatever creature she is

besides mine

—her ridged carapace,

her spiky heart—

she fought as rain pelted her

and wind knocked her down

until she found her way back

First Emily

has yet to show me

any fucking thing with feathers

who could

do that


Madeleine French lives with her husband in Florida and Virginia. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Black Fork Review, The Madrigal, Poetica Review, Hidden Peak Press, West Trade Review, Thimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. You may find her on Twitter, @maddiethinks, and on Post, @maddiewrites.


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