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Common House Magazine

Return to Sender

Lauren K. Carlson

All wrapped up,

I send myself

to remote inter-

continental islands.


Postmark my head,

glue shut my mouth.

              How freeing

it is, this first


gesture toward hereafter.

And when they knife

open the envelope

bits of me are scattered


somewhere along

the carrier’s route

sprouting seedlings.

A package arrived


with nothing inside.

That’s what I mean

about losing someone,

you rip open to get at


what’s gone.

Lauren K. Carlson is the author of the chapbook Animals I Have Killed (Comstock Review Chapbook Prize, 2018). Her work has recently appeared in Crab Creek Review, Salamander Magazine, Terrain, The Windhover, and Waxwing. In 2021, she won the Levis Stipend from Friends of Writers for her full-length collection Steelhead (forthcoming 2025). Her writing has been supported by Tin House, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Lauren currently serves as editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal and holds an MFA in poetry from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

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