Charles Rafferty

Imaginary View with a Tomb by the Lagoon early 1740s
Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)


People don’t say much about entrails anymore. In the ancient world, they had rules about how to touch them and how they could be burned. I found a pile of them once, out in the woods, where a hunter had scooped them from a deer. The lack of blood was surprising, and the flies had yet to arrive. They were pretty, too — the color of a sky I’d seen above the ocean once. If I came back the next day, I felt certain they’d be gone. The gods, I knew, hadn’t changed in all these years. They would be happy for the gift, and then they would exit a world designed to kill us all.

The Rumor of Your Mother’s China

The body of a girl emerges from a bog like a pile of buried purses. Every 17 years the cicadas rise up and make it hard to hear the radio. Nothing wants to stay hidden. The booby trap, the tumor, the syphilitic affair — they all have a way of announcing themselves despite our best intentions. I still remember the phone number of the house where I first ate Salisbury steak, and when we moved into this one, we filled the basement with all that we thought we’d never need. Now we’re planning a party. In one of these boxes, the rumor of your mother’s china persists.

Weehawken from Turtle Grove ca. 1830
William James Bennett


Part of Connecticut used to touch Africa, and when I push through the bushes on the edge of our pond, the turtles click like poker chips off of their muddy logs. Wherever I am, the world makes room, despite the roots and boulders. Every year, the moon floats 1.5 inches farther away from us, and on the other side of the planet, the wildebeest approach a river full of crocodiles. Fear or desire — it doesn’t matter which. The cameraman presses record.

Charles Rafferty’s most recent collection of poems is The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions, 2017). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

Twilight in the Cedars at Darien, Connecticut 1872
John Frederick Kensett

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Winter 2021