The pony bit me close to my privates, the white flesh

of upper thigh going blue.


I kept the closed wound through those two weeks

we wandered, the month of June going bruise on my tongue.


The love bite lingered like the scent of my mother, old apples,

gray ash we sealed inside the middle blue nesting doll.


I carried the pain, a nibbling absence, across steep mountain

hips, through streams that dribbled like sweat


between a landscape's breasts. To find everything I adore

becomes a woman's body in my mind.


A man sold me beer named after a bear and I drank it

on the curb where a road quilled into serpentine


and a story began to tell me. What is memory but fondled

wound, pony teeth, cherished blister, unbound muscle sprain.


I carry your ashes in the doll's womb-tomb

and bumble through the ache, again.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She serves as Co-Director of PEN Birmingham. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Prize and was published in May 2018. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, President of Alabama State Poetry Society, Co-Founder of 100,000 Poets for Change Birmingham, and proud board member of Magic City Poetry Festival. Her poetry collection, Defect/or, was a finalist for 2015 Robert Dana Poetry Award. A finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize, the 2019 Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, the 2019 Frank McCourt Prize, and the 2019 Streetlight Magazine Poetry Contest, Alina won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize.  More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com or @aliner.


Available for purchase: 

Ipokimen (Anchor & Plume, 2016) 

Stories to Read Aloud to Your Fetus (Finishing Line Press, 2017)

Every Mask I Tried On (Brighthorse Books, May 1, 2018)