Issue 28 | Fall 2021

Three Card Spread

                As children, our cups

        were never full; we learned
                        to build our own thrones out of sticks and
mud from underneath the bent
                willow. I experienced
        tenderness under that tree at fifteen, and again
                        when a hurricane flooded our back-
yard, laying bare
                our roots, our connections
        to this place.

                        The Queen that raged and ruled inside
me resembled
                my motherthey both held
        the same heavy gavel and the tips
                        of their noses turned up just slightly
to the gods. My Queen’s long, lace-
                layered cape swept by the feet
        of the masses, touching each one who cared
                        for royalty, even a couple
who didn’t. Queen of

                cups never full—but always
        covered—finally dips her toes
                        into my ocean. Ace

of change and potential, I am
                replanting my weeping seed, hopeful
        of its need to silently sit slack-
                        jawed over my neighbor’s
fence. People always evoke the beginning
                of something beautiful, but forget the ugly
        inevitable. We will cross that hideous bridge
                        on the tree-lined river when we come to
it, but we will ignore all

                pentacles being carved
        into the trunks along the way. Can you
                        face the mirror when the Jokers
are telling you no, when your Queen is commanding
                patience? After all, your paycheck
        depends on it. Being young
                        opens the fingers and toes for earth, ground
yourself in now. When I am forty-

                four, will winter still storm
        the beaches of my home? From
                        the epicenter of the coffee table, floor-
boards will waver out
                towards the four corners of our living
        room. We have an old house, but an ancient
                        foundation, created long before
we entered here, surviving
                our leaving. I will make

        wands from the splinters in my
                        toes, present them to our Queen as a prize
from a faraway land, personally pried
                from the spindly fingers
        of a dark wizard, forged
                        in the fire of a teakwood candle.

Filed under: Poetry

Chelsea N. Fabian is a PhD student and graduate instructor at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her research focuses on intersections of female queerness and trauma in contemporary American literature. She has poems featured in Puerto del Sol and Atlanta Review.