The Bear

She looked at the soapy water and up and there was the bear, walking along the row of arborvitaes at the edge of their yard. He took a moment to register as a bear and by then was through the trees, like walking through a wall. That was all—a few seconds of his ambling. If she’d been scrubbing a dish, he wouldn’t exist.

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Russian Doll Theory

Everything out here is circular
and even death for a split second is sated. So we eat
drugs like peppermints while the marble oceans
of our skin become a litany you can memorize
with two fingers and an open-jawed religion. We raze
a dog’s routine by going on permanent vacation.

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Two Poems

When Met Life executives
invited future social workers
from the Seven Sisters colleges
to their observation tower,
the tallest at the time, “to see
the tenements and the task ahead,”
they had other ideas in mind.

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The Seclusion

There aren’t many examples in the family archives. We have that famous photo of Great Aunt BoDean, circa 1867, seated behind a wooden shack with ranch hands lined up on the other side, holding empty round plates. They’re missing their pie, for which she was famous. Her face is hard to read in the blurry photo. We’re just guessing it was a case of seclusion.

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Foul Ball

After the eighth foul, the crowd cheers both men’s refusal to yield. After the sixteenth, fans turn in their seats, marveling in joy and wonder with complete strangers—who’da thunk it?! After the nineteenth, a cloud in the shape of the future floats by, unnoticed; by morning it resembles a love song.

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Our Alice

One day late in life, Alice acquired a husband. Our Alice…or so we’d assumed.

He was a small, dark presence in her house. Measly. Scrawny. Slope-shouldered. A husband, we were told, but in our view more like an ill-matched suitor. A timid if persistent petitioner. We could have easily ignored him except for the shock of his showing up in the first place.

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We Always Start with the Seduction

The word “secret” is alluring, particularly in Official DC, and catches a woman’s ear, but beyond that, he’s truly convinced that these anonymous walks carry him into an unfathomable, private space, peeling through exoskeleton, de-layering to a forgotten scrap of soul, where he imagines himself capable of surprise and what he would call “intimacy.”

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A Taxonomy of Cover Letters

Oh, cover letters. After 10 years and 22 issues, TSR has accumulated a mountain of them. They fall into distinct groups: the useful (name, contact info, simultaneous submission, word count, etc.) and the awesome. The latter is bursting with sub-categories, a few of which we showcase here. We hope you enjoy these excerpts from some of the numerous cover letters we’ve received throughout the years as much as we do.

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Emily Gilbert