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The Turn by Partridge Boswell

One version has the crux thus: a spasm of doubt overtakes him.
          Another says: a synapse of elation. Either he can no longer hear her
footsteps behind him in the gloom or, celebrating early à la Steve Ovett,

hasn’t reached the tape just yet, and wheels to share his sunlit euphoria
          before technically stepping from the tomb. There’s also a third version
we don’t often get, though it’s a redoubtable subreddit: that he does it


because it’s the one thing he was told not to do. What artist can resist
          a rule? Sit still. Raise your hand. Color by number inside the lines.
Whatever you do, don’t try something new. And what of Eurydice?

Doesn’t she already miss her long walks along Lethe’s esplanade
          with her new best girlfriend Persephone and off-leash Cerberus?
So it’s a sad tale you want? Did you ask our protagonists for their

perspective? Knowing what I know of love, it has to be a mashup
          of the above and a few other tunes besides. How Torah Bible Koran
and Bhagavad Gita arrive at the same Sangam mixtape eventually,

the deeper you read them, the longer you listen. Immersed, we emerge:
         an all-day child at the beach—whipped and dripping with regret
that it couldn’t last forever as the waves—our glistening bodies

happy as marketplace rafters. And here’s where—if you’re still with me—
          I turn to see your face peering over my shoulder, not from doubt
or elation or any illusion I may harbor that this is the true art

of a true artist, but because the chance of my beholding what’s
          there of your soul is so slim on this world’s epidermis we share
in dubious jubilation...what I’d give for a rare glimpse that these

words aren’t wasted, that their music drowns out your Sirens
          if only for a moment. What do we know of motives? Did Orpheus
need that modicum of loss to reach the blue notes? Was he lyre-shy

on commitment, or just into music more than people? And what
          of Sisyphus, poor wretch, eternally fit in his daily anti-gravity shtick?
Everyone forgets how they lined the mountain path like polka-dots


on Mont Ventoux to admire his physique’s resolve. How he paused
          each evening on the summit, glowing endorphin-lit in twilight’s
mead-sweet swoon, grateful for his tortured bliss and a point of view


few others he’d wend his way down, supremely pleased
          with a job well done, to his streamside cottage to savor some hearty
grub and the company of a lover never mentioned in the version

retold by Occidents who tend to neglect how much he loved
          the calling of his penance, the joy within the grimace in every
rising step, the song he hummed all day long under his breath.


Partridge Boswell is recipient of the 2022 Fish Flash Fiction and New Zealand International Poetry Prizes. His poems appear in the forthcoming Saguaro Poetry Prize-winning collection Not Yet a Jedi and in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, Poetry Ireland Review, Southword,,The Moth, & co-founder of Bookstock Literary Festival, he teaches at Vallum Society for Education in Arts & Letters in Montreal, serves as advisory trustee of the Grolier Poetry Foundation, and troubadours widely with the poetry/music group Los Lorcas, whose debut release Last Night in America is available on Thunder Ridge He lives with his family in Vermont. 

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