Liza Katz Duncan


Of all the almosts, you were
the most of all.

We thought you were given, though
you were never meant to materialize.

As one crack in the ice expands,
creating hundreds of tiny

icebergs—calving, they call it—

yours was a simple drift, a breaking

I imagine you floating out to sea,
then emerging unrecognizable:

a pixelated photo of yourself,
or poorly-drawn stick figure.

Your body, a broken thing:

Your second birthday, coughing up

into your pretty cake. At six, filling
with fluid, day-glo veins pouring

poison into a swollen heart.
Little iceberg. Little

almost. I can see it now:
the cracks, scraps of your

floating world resurfacing.
Yes, it was better this way.


Let the kettle groan: you will wake
in the dark, close your hands

over your cup, squint through
the plume of steam into the sky’s

auburn clouds. Let the air conditioner stir
a tiny storm. Let the porcelain

chip and sliver. Lacquer the table
with rivulets of tea. Leave the stove on.

Leave the window down as the smoke
draws shadow pictures in its wake.

Liza Katz Duncan                           

Liza Katz Duncan is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College, a 2021 Pushcart nominee and a 2017 recipient of an Amy Award from Poets and Writers. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, About Place, the Journal of New Jersey Poets, Poetry Northwest, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere.