We provide privacy, darkness,
and light set at certain slants
across the room

where you happily pursue one
another—all soft and sweet
and laughing—

’til Younger returns to hours
no sooner gone than impossible
to escape.

Older, kind and listening, persists
as any good lover might,
but Younger

resists, hyperventilates.
Older whispers, You’re okay.
You are okay.

Okay, says Younger. I’m okay.
She rises to finger
us, the blinds.

She pulls our strings, works us
as though we are simple
marionettes dancing

up then down, spinning out
at all our angles, while Older
waits, hand warm

against the empty pillow, swallowing
the impulse to want and to say,
Come back, Younger, to me.

We stripe you in shadows and
do not tell you that this burdened
happiness is all blessing.


Annie Mountcastle is from Roanoke, Virginia, where she studied at the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University. Her work has appeared in Oxford Magazine, Rattle, and The Greensboro Review, which awarded her short story “Tiny Little Nothing” a 2012 Robert Watson Literary Prize.