by Hannah Stephenson

Together we listen to a new song
One of those leaning-into-the-wind
songs about the longings of late youth
A let-the-waters-break-around-me song
An I-want-what-is-coming ballad
This is the first song you sing to
The lowercase o of your mouth
and your raised brows reaching
for the power in the chorus
Your voice a spear sent into the open
that you retrieve and fling again
This song accompanies a cartoon
in which the hero is a girl and although
she is beautiful her desire is not
to be desired Her agency is splendid
Her journey is one of claiming the fiery shadows
that screech within and embracing them
With this courage she heals her home
I am captivated by the way fear and anger
play across her face A cartoon is a cave
painting we use to speak to our children
and to ourselves as children
Son My one-letter-less-than-song boy
In the glow of the ocean painted onscreen
In these minutes In these notes I feel myself
becoming your story your shore
Become yourself As the grandmother
in the movie keeps urging our young hero Go
I hear you an adult telling someone you love
about me You say One of the things we did together
was sing

Hannah Stephenson is a poet and editor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she runs the literary event series Paging Columbus). She is the author of Cadence, In the Kettle, the Shriek, and Co-Editor of New Poetry from the Midwest. Visit her online at

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