on estrangement

Without a father. Or I suppose I’ve never had a father, but this is the first day in which the choice is deliberate. I drink a glass of wine. This feels important. I look up the cultural history of the word cormorant—how many sculptures and epics and bar jokes are contained within the fog of its wings. I try not to think too deeply about choice, or wound. That’s what my sister called it on the phone, wound. I don’t have a gaping wound like you seem to, she said. I remember once after a soccer game a girl on the rival team refused to shake my sister’s hand. This was a known custom. My sister marched up to the girl, grabbed her wrist, and slapped her. You forgot to say something, she said. It was always like this, her with the salt. Instead, I am looking at the color treasury of birds. There are many birds, and I’ve had the capacity to love very few of them. This is something that happens when space is made. I have never before been astounded by wings. As a child I would wear my father’s baseball cap as I paced my way through the monkeybars. When he left, he left Captain Fantastic and Yellow Brick Road under my pillow where things are left for children by adults they believe are magical. He left his cap in the closet. I collected mementos like a housecat or a storm. This was called choice, and I wore it.


grace (ge) gilbert is a hybrid writer based in Pittsburgh. they received their MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022, where they now serve as a Visiting Lecturer. they are the author of 3 chapbooks: the closeted diaries: essays (Porkbelly Press 2022), NOTIFICATIONS IN THE DARK (Antenna Books 2023), and today is an unholy suite (forthcoming; Barrelhouse 2023). their work can be found in 2023’s Best of the Net Anthology, the Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, the Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. They teach hybrid collage and poetics courses at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and they are a 2023 Visiting Teaching Artist at the Poetry Foundation. they are passionate about making the hybrid arts accessible to all. find course offerings and more at gracegegilbert.com