All in by Catherine Staples

by Catherine Staples

The slander was a lie, but when whispered
In her ear it held, echoed.
Endless as a rock-pool brimming, a hidden
Spill of water, sounding a cave.

She listened though she knew it wasn’t true.
She shook her head.
The lie rose like yeast, like six seeds
Of pomegranate in the distraction of grief.

Ruined, it whispered and winter   
Swept the small room.
But the floor was lined in stone, old
Rock from a long gone inland sea.

The dark lines of fossils woke her—
The still beauty
Of curved spines and wings,
Birds. Ferns. Whole ferns survived

Exact even to the dark spores on fronds.
A river bank and a bay tree.


Catherine Staples is the author of The Rattling Window, winner of the McGovern Prize, and Never a Note Forfeit. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Gettysburg Review, and others. Recent honors include a Dakin Fellowship from Sewanee Writer’s Conference and the New England Poetry Club’s Daniel Varoujan Award. She teaches in the English and Honors programs at Villanova University. Please visit at: