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Gettysburg Review
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“Spelling Bee”

by Caroline Tompkins

Even before I get down to the real work of editing the word list during the weeks before the county bee in 2002, I discard desuetude and eleemosynary. I would hate to stumble while pronouncing one of these for a nervous kid waiting at the microphone. I am not sure I have ever heard anyone actually say either of them, and they don’t show up much in my reading. But for the later rounds, when we pare the field to our final two contestants, the ones who will go on to state, I may need some equally obscure words.


“Second Sky”

by Jill Osier

The father works to make a second sky
for his children, in case the first one
runs out or proves false. In case its
loveliness leaves it vulnerable, like
a collarbone.


“Cohabiting”

by Stephen Dunn

There’s not a nude in a museum
or a person anywhere, taking a bath,
nearly as naked as that French girl,
stripped of all but her socks,
head shaved, being spat upon
by her own townspeople . . . .


“Take Heart”

by Jeanne Murray Walker

What heart can grieve for it all?
Beside a mass grave, six Albanians.
A village of starving Kurds. Three hanged
Palestinians. A teenager, shooing
flies from her son’s corpse. . . .

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