Dear Nora,

by Erin Elizabeth Smith

Sometimes this city is a cage
drawn in Gauguin orange.
Sometimes it makes a sound
across the shaggy night
that is almost a gasp,
almost a name. I think
of the loneliness of Echo—
turned to a voice that wants
until it is gone. I think of how
wisteria dressed that park
we loved, how everything
beautiful suffocates.

I am writing to tell you
I’m leaving. My car is tight
as new shoes. Going east.
Toward a place where things rise,
where black crickets pop
in the lawn.

I have sent you that dress
you always loved—it’s too small
for who I need to be.

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the Managing Editor of Sundress Publications and The Wardrobe. She is the author of two full-length collections and the editor of two anthologies, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity and Not Somewhere Else But Here: Contemporary Poems on Women and Place. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Ecotone, Mid-American, Crab Orchard Review, Cimarron Review, and Willow Springs, among other. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and teaches in the English Department at the University of Tennessee, where she is also the Jack E. Reese Writer in the Library. In 2017, Erin Elizabeth Smith was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame.

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