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By Cheryl Caesar

PROMPT—During Covid-19 ...

Folk music twines. Male and female

voices close together, crossing

over, twist like threads

of a friendship bracelet.

She sings with her whole body, raising

a hand to lift her voice. Her trunk

weaves the melody from side to side, as the two

voices swell and recede, intimate as waves.

When he picks the strings, she touches

invisible piano keys.

At sixteen, I sang

folk songs with my father, played guitars.

I worried about authenticity. Could I sing

a man’s part, to “Green Grow the Lilacs”?

“She sent me an answer,

all twisted in twine…” Could I sing

of poverty, riding the rails, marching

in a picket line? Now at sixty

it has all come round again. The Civil War

has twice returned. Age and gender

are an illusion. “Tell me why the ivy twines…”

sing the contrapuntal voices.

Even the word “ravel” means its own opposite.

In the end, there is no unraveling.


Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany, and Sligo for 25 years. She earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and has taught literature and phonetics. She currently teaches writing at Michigan State University. She also gives poetry readings locally and serves on the Board of the Lansing Poetry Club. Last year, Cheryl published over a hundred poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, and won third prize in the Singapore Poetry Contest for her poem on global warming. Cheryl's book Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era, is available from Goodreads and Amazon.


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