fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award


by Jill Koenigsdorf

We joke
about looking back on all this—
as if
we had that luxury, the miracle
of escape—
as if
we had somehow clawed
our way out of
the quicksand of

Remember that day
you stopped liking food?
I would say, or:
Remember the time you fainted on the path?
The day hospice delivered the hospital bed
& you said: so it begins. . . .

There were many times we could walk miles
along the beach. Once,
a seal paralleled our progress
the whole way, our guardian, we called it.
And just look at you now! I want to say,
and now, and now
just look at you,
as if
all the terror
of diminishing
was behind us.

And there you would be,
Upright, putting one strong arm
through the sleeve
of a clean shirt, or
sitting across from me
at tables laden with favorites,
telling me about the adventures
of one full & limitless day.

That was such a hard time,
we would say,
shaking our heads,
safe in the land
of survival.

But no.
Each item is already tainted
with nostalgia.
I fear the change you toss
in an old jar,
the stack of New Scientist magazines,
the little painting of
I gave you for our anniversary.
And especially, your
tee-shirts, knowing soon
I will look at all these things
& weep.

Remember that time
you turned your serene face to me, let me
wipe your brow, your
hollow cheeks
Your dazzling calm, then,
the beauty of
your surrender.
How I envied that acceptance.
& there I was,
the small bird,
still scolding & chasing—
desperate to protect,
my beak barely fierce enough
to keep at bay the giant, dark
for just one more day.


Jill Koenigsdorf is a writer and floral designer in Sonoma, California. She is the author of the novel Phoebe and the Ghost of Chagall (MacAdam Cage, 2012). Her short fiction has been published in ZYZZYVA, The Chautauqua Review, The Writer, ArrowHeart, and others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her nonfiction has appeared in many newspapers and magazines in The Bay Area and New Mexico. She is currently working on a new novel and a poetry collection.

May 2023