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Tess Liegeois

At the Base of a Palm 

Something happens
when the mourning dove cries.

I’m a girl, again, with a fruit in her hands:
coconut, green; back to a tree

in the cabbage palm grove.

There’s a knife from the house
used to quarry the husk. Split like a skull

to the coconut heart.
It waters my hair and my knees

and is only barely sticky,

bathing feet and these trees,
and the palmetto bush

unfurled by the cat
in the garden.

I’ve missed him—the cat,

and the cabbage palms, too.
I’ve started hating doves, Dot.

I’ve hated missing you.


The Train to Childhood's End


It starts with a single individual—always a child—Adults will not be affected, for their minds are already set in an unalterable mold.

                                                                       -Arthur C. Clarke, “Childhood’s End”

We’ve been carted off in silver trains,
bright like electric wire.

The new city’s all domes and thorn-
sharp corners,

sunshine with barely any weight.
We can jump 30 ft.

and land with only minor pains

in our ankles and our toes.

But, we’ve all stopped jumping now.

The moon is here, always
bouncing with the trees—


fragile things that look on, lost,
far too high to climb.

We can sprint to the edge of the city
and no one ever stops us,

because no one else is here. Except
the men who run the trains.

They watch through windows,

glassy eyed, endless talking

of the rain.

And when rain comes, we start to dance
tight circles in the muck.

We’re spinning, now, as a rainbow curves
like a grimace in the sky.

We think we might hate rainbows,
and the sun that glares against the road.

But still, we do not stop.

The men look pleased and watch us churn,

hot like little stoves.

When our feet go bloody and our arms
go to wood, they gather us up to listen.

Soon the world will fit, they say.
And we will fit the world.

It’ll all be different, but just the same.
Like fallen snow on playgrounds, soon.

We believe them

all at once. We have never not believed them.
Suddenly we hate our hands

and our faces make us retch.
We do not want to eat our food

and a grass field makes us itch.
In time we cannot see the moon, and there are never stars.

When we grow silent, cooled like ash,

we board the trains back home.
Sleeping, now, in humming cars,

we miss the city
when it winks away.

image0 - Tess Liegeois.jpeg

Tess Liegeois is an author and lawyer working in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up along the gulf coast of Florida, a place from which she draws much of her inspiration. Her work has most recently appeared in Poetry South, Gentian Journal, Rust & Moth, and Flash Fiction Magazine. She was selected as runner-up for the 2023 Michelle Boisseau Poetry Prize, and long listed in Frontier Poetry’s 2023 Hurt and Healing competition.

Bear Review


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