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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2021 - Vol. 18, Issue 1

"With Chests Full of Hope"

written by

Avra Margariti

Voices outside your bedroom--

your mother, father, and husband-to-be,

the piglets he brought as a trade for you

still crying for their slaughtered sow mother,

his breath wet and rattling like a wolf’s

about to blow your door down

The world shrinks, then expands, and you become

small enough to be mistaken for a cross-stitch needle,

small enough to scale the hand-and-footholds

etched into the timeworn cedar wood of your hope chest,

small enough to crawl through the bronze keyhole

You’re drowning in a sea of fabric,

the delicate lace and embroidered doilies chafing your skin,

the slippery silk waves causing you to tread water.

You jump on the bowl of a burnished tea spoon,

part of a full cutlery set, the handle engraved with climbing roses.

You sail the sea of linen lovingly, fearfully

woven by aunts, grandmothers, and cousins.

This, right here, is your dowry, your heritage, your worth--

but that’s not all. You dig deeper,

let yourself sink to the bottom of this fine, fragrant prison

toward some family secret,

some coded recipe passed down from old

How to become you again,

big enough to splinter open your cedarwood chest,

big enough to send the relics of the past flying,

big enough to stride with certain, giant footsteps

down your own unfated path.

Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Asimov's, Liminality, and other venues. Avra won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review prize for fiction. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.

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