Ghazal for Welty

Ghazal by Caroline Keys  |  Illustration by Molly Rose Freeman


You said people are bulbs wrapped in layers of tenderness and violence.

And you, Eudora, decide if a character ends up an onion or a hyacinth.

It is really up to you, Eudora.

From Montana I listen across time zones and decades to you deliver up dialogue. Your rhythms of exchange make for pastel fireworks and conversational Kung Fu, Eudora.

You paint the fractal of relationship between folks who are at once certain and clueless, asking questions whose answers are so unclear as if to be covered in kudzu, Eudora.

It was The New Yorker’s loss that they did not hire you at 23. Your letter reads like handiwork of a precocious millennial. WTF? You belonged in a literary review, Eudora.

If humans are cast as the irritant, then place plays the balm. Come cruelty, come pain, come emptiness, come outrage. The way one sees a place can still be new, Eudora.

When Rick Bass was an oil worker in Jackson, he slipped lawn-mowing adverts into the mailboxes on your street and waited for your call. After work he mowed for neighbors, but not for you, Eudora.

Around the same time, my parents marched me two blocks down the street to Randolph-Macon Woman's College to hear my first reading. Who could the author be? One clue: Eudora.

After setting Rick Bass stories to music, I know his tempos by heart.

Listening to you read, a similar cadence. Meters might be indistinguishable if into each mouth was placed a kazoo, Eudora?

But enough with Caroline’s vibrational wax paper hypotheses! You said whether we go looking for our joy or our sorrow, the excursion is the same. So to keep it brief, I’ll end with a haiku, Eudora:

our destination?

until the vanishing point:

listen for story



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Story by Topher Payne
Portrait by Natalie Minik

The Wolf Groom

Story by Laura Relyea
Photo by Mandy O’Shea

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Story by Pearl McHaney
Illustration by Natalie K. Nelson