At the wedding I played
my dress like a virtuoso, spinning

into the hush where my father
was missing, chords lost
as the music sped up—mordent

only sounds like it means death
but really means to eat the extra

slice of almond cake faster,
to remove the empty

chair, boutonniere, fly past the father-
daughter dance I danced alone

as I mastered the grief, moved
from first chair to maestro,
conducting it from the first brace

to the de capo and through
to the end again, a current

tensing my body
as my arms lifted, my back
to the crowd: not a hush

but a minor chord, silent
as a scalpel or baton that swings
upwards and outwards

then halves the circle
with one swift pull down.


Stacey Balkun received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers at A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as artist-in-residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. Her chapbook, Lost City Museum, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications.

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