Dara-Lyn Shrager: Gardiner House,
The Second Secret, & Retreat

Gardiner House

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All the girls had spoons, bent to mimic the curves
of their throats. All the girls ate cake. Like swans.
With their long spines telescoping toward the purple
icing. The bathroom pipes chattered. Their bodies
swung on hinges. They painted their fingernails
red before palming themselves into bed, working
the white quilts to their chins. Saturday nights
they smoothed their hair in plaits over ghost ladders
of burns. Their robes billowed as they flew
the central stairway, up and down. No matter
the weather, the doors on that whitewashed Federal

                                                                                stuck shut.

The Second Secret

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Two girls share a bike.
One pedals, steers, avoids potholes.
Two holds on to One’s waist and
speaks too hotly in One’s ear.

At the park, they see a man
open his coat.
One pedals home.
Two slides off the seat crying.
A police car rides them back down.
Either they are lying or the man is gone.

One doesn’t know the truth.
She is the kind of girl who lets things happen.
Two takes off her pants in the metal shed.
Come closer, she says to One at the door.


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Against black winds cutting in from Rocky Mountain,
six cows in a shed shift their feet. I follow the scrape
of hooves until I find their heat. Anything to escape
where I have come to know myself awfully
and without error, my pulse set to the kettle’s wail,
a single track wearing grooves in my head—
three of the broads are bloated with calves,
one so laden, she turns away and eases
her haunches into the sorghum hay—
soggy, word-bitten, tired in the eyes from seeing.


ART: Teri Frame, Line Kallmayer

FICTION: Matt Dojny, Jessica Halliday, Corey Zeller

NONFICTION: Brandel France de Bravo, Line Kallmayer, Ben Merriman, Nicole Walker

POETRY: Mary Jo Bang, Sam Cha, Ching-In Chen, Natalie Eilbert, John Estes, Jessica Fjeld, Margaret LeMay, Nina Puro, Lauren Russell, Dara-Lyn Shrager, Donna Stonecipher, Henry Walters, Kerri Webster, Betsy Wheeler

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