Two Poems by Nancy Sobanik


In a drawer, your hairbrush.
Under the bed, moccasins.
You would slip into them,
supple like your hand sliding
into my jeans pocket,
molding two into one.

My face is stretched,
taut as a drumhead,
just yesterday crumpled,
a paper balled in the trash.
I think of fish heads,
glazed eyes open.

The sight of your cap
on its hook by the door
has corseted my chest.
If only becomes the hinge,
a fulcrum that splits the boning.
I am undone.

A bedlam of jays
sound behind the blinds.
In your closet pressed
shirts hang in a neat row.
There are many rooms
in which to go. I plunge
into the basement.

Would that I could climb
these stairs on my knees
in pilgrimage to the crack
of light above.
Abandon why
as my first thought.
Replace it with don’t go.

Morning Swim

My brother’s thoughts
have gaps
like the missing planks
of the old pier
since his return
from Afghanistan.

When the tide
is flowing in
he swims
in a rockweed garden
teeming with life.

On the ebb,
a boneyard
of shells shimmer.
His eyes set
in a thin blade
against the relentless sun,
a nystagmus
of watchfulness.

Splayed pilings
of the pier glisten,
trousered in green velvet,
bedecked with barnacles,
the ruined
decking slimed and slippery;
dried blood
and fish scales
sequin the wood.

Below the pier,
snapper blues
scatter shiners in an arc.
Pelicans patrol,
ever watchful
for a mercurial flash.

My brother swims
every morning,
the white noise of the surf
erases the detonations he hears,
the water wraps him
with amniotic comfort.

The sea shuffles and scourges,
but also brings a hush
that surpasses the burden
of endless sorrow,
a buoyancy
that lifts the glimmering
light once more
to his eyes.

Nancy Sobanik is a registered nurse who writes poetry with empathy for life’s challenges and to create meaningful connections for the reader. Her poetry is published in Triggerfish Critical Review Issue # 29, Jan. 2023 and can be found on She resides in Maine, USA.