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Common House Magazine

Bridge Enough

Rachel Barton

              The friends have left, the sea is bare…

              And the stars are the only ships of pleasure.

                      – Elizabeth Bishop, “Song”




I want more from my dream than the carpeted stairway going down then up as if it had second thoughts. I want the treatment offered by an ex-boyfriend’s brother, the artist, not just a view of his table with the blue lake of a gel pack in the middle that he obsessively smooths with his hands. I wake too soon.




In another dream, I am hell-bent on taking my dead grandmother Lalia to a Bavarian restaurant, not my dead German grandmother, Agnes Heisler, but the Scotch one who grew up with dogs and horses. Of course, Agnes was from Batavia, which is more than a bit like Bavaria—am I crossing my synapses? Hard to tell in a dream.




When we cross the Atlantic out of LaGuardia, we lose an engine and land in Reykjavik. Time unspools over the long wooden benches as we wait for another flight. I remember a bus ride into Copenhagen, then the hotel’s feather beds onto which we collapse. I sleep for 36 hours uninterrupted.




Haricots Verts Amandine. That’s what I put in the blue glass bowl for our holiday dinner, the bowl you gave us as a wedding gift thirty years ago. I wonder—did you cook for anyone? Did you make Mom’s olive cheese balls, a pecan pie? Or are you still dining on crusty bread and painkillers? I bring you to my table in a blue bowl.

Rachel Barton is a poet, writing coach, and editor. She publishes her own Willawaw Journal and serves as associate editor for Cloudbank Books. Her first collection, This Is the Lightness, was published by Poetry Box in 2023. Her forthcoming collection is Jacob’s Ladder, from Main Street Rag Press (2024). For more information, visit

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