Sunday, September 17, 2023



an ascending thoracic 
aortic aneurysm, right above 
the root. First found seven years 
ago. The size of a walnut. She could 
not work. We painted her red walls white. 
Easier to sell. Put her artwork in storage and moved 
her to a farmhouse on a hill. Then the symptoms abated. 
The aneurysm dormant as a winter bear. We thought we’d been 
spared. In summer it’s the size of a ruby plum. The way fruit 
can ripen. The doctors speak in a language unlike my 
mother. Sharp and sterile. A gloved finger draws 
a vertical line down the sternum to explain 
an open-chest approach. Her heart, 
her heart, the mother of my 
whole red world.


Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet, 2021 NEA Poetry Fellow, and the author 
of Set to Music a Wildfire, winner of the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the 
2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Alongside Rachel Mennies, she is the 
co-editor of The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2020 
and 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Her work appears in 
Poetry, Poem-a-Day, The Believer, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, Pleiades, 
The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.


We loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), and we want an 
opportunity to better hear our contributors. We're featuring audio recordings of 
poems from our pages, read by the poet. This an open invitation to all contributors 
from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to 
hear it.

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