Tell Me the Old, Old Story

But let someone else be the one left,
soaking wet, ringing the bell that calls
for help from places beyond our lines

of sight. That last chapter can't ever
be unread, so let's end at the penultimate page,

before the water runs down to drown
even the necktied preacher, even his daughter,
even her shelves and shelves

of picture books, even the prince within
before he has a chance to save the damsel
from the evil king. Tell me how it went

before the stone was thrown into the river,
before the bones were buried on the bank
to keep her near the rush of current,

her wailing muffled in the water's wake.
Read the lines that pull me there beside her,
but stop before her tongue is stolen at sunrise

from between lips already grey with fear.
If you let your eyes wander to that page,
if you read her end aloud,

you will swallow her aubade,
which has become my aubade,
which has taught me how to say goodbye,

a word that has never
made sense to me.

Jennifer Yeatts' work has been published in the Rio Grande Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Linebreak, among other journals. She received her MFA from the University of Idaho and currently writes from Traverse City, Michigan. Read her coffee blog at

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761