Sara Moore Wagner

Old Wives Tale

What can we understand
of history except this: a figure
walked the wall beside your grandma’s
house night and day, day and night, 
and if someone took a picture, it must
have happened. An apparition, I think;
Someone was happy or unhappy, 
and her hair shown in the wind
like a dove. We thought it was
some kind of bird, but our mothers
said silly, silly. Later, we pretended
to get married like we saw the girls
do on TV, because it meant we’d grown
up enough to let a man tell us
to come in now and sit down, 
to let a man grunt his sorrow into
our little ears just when we wanted to stop it. Just
stop it. We pretended to dive
off every bridge in all white, hand fasted. 
I said to you, promise me if we die
tonight, we’ll come back here
looking like this. We’ll sing Glory, 
Glory, Glory—Almighty. 
It’ll terrify. I always leave
something out here, misrepresent
the narrative. Walk the wall with me now, 
full grown, hen-tied. Invent
a tale with me to replace
the truth of it all. Help me undo
this childhood like an old corset, 
the past nothing more than
scratchings at the door
or on the page.

Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, The Wide Shore, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review's Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at