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Grape Arbor - Mary Dingee Fillmore

A string of cancers winds around

my beloveds’ necks bladders

bowels, even the source

of life the ovaries

Four years ago, when everyone

had hair and planned for old age,

I planted a grapevine

in scrappy gravelly soil.

For two seasons the roots

languished, sputtered, then spurted.

They demanded an arbor,

and my love and I built one

curved like a chuppah

flung over newlyweds.

In a few years, the vine clothed it

as flesh clothes bones, completely.

Now, we sit beneath it and wonder

who will be here with us who not.

The arbor’s soft grape leaves

cup over our graying heads

as our parents’ hands once did

as ours do now over our friends


Mary Dingee Fillmore enjoys writing in all genres, and speaks widely about the Holocaust and resistance in the Netherlands. Her 2016 award-winning novel, An Address in Amsterdam, concerns a young Jewish woman who joins the anti-Nazi resistance. Mary’s poetry has been published by Atlanta Review, Blueline, Diner, Main Street Rag, Dunes Review, New Verse News, Pearl, Pinyon, Slant, Upstreet, and Westview, among others, and has been included in several anthologies. Her 2018 chapbook, Aside from Our Bright Lives, was published by Hen Run Press, Kendal, Cumbria, England. Mary won the Poetry Grand Prize in the 2007 Tallgrass Writers’ Guild Contest, and is a winner of the 2006 Iowa Source contest, as well as receiving Honorable Mention from Naugatuck Review’s 2012 contest. She is one of two finalists in the 2013 Vermont Broadside Contest, selected by Syd Lea.

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