Meg Tuite’s Exquisite Duet: Michelle Reale and Heather Fowler

This is the latest in Meg Tuite’s Exquisite Duet. To go to the column page, please click here.

“Chiarascuro” by Michelle Reale

No one was awake when it happened
Not even me, whose eyes were gaping
Yet unseeing, unbelieving.
Forget the young ones
Who longed for reassurance
There were limitations a mile long and
a bed of soft sheets
Where the press of flesh
Should have found their home
But ,instead , the unwanted  awareness
Of the paralytic dream, though
My arms and legs and legs
Twitched with the frayed nerves
Either of  the scrutinized
Or forever the one held at arm’s length.
You have retained
the ice pick of self-importance,
Your accusatory words like a dirge
Play the discordant
counterpart to my hopeful hymn.
Neither of us will
Dance again.
Your greatest enemy has
Always been transparent
Mine, the shroud.


“Ravens in the Mourning” by Heather Fowler

No one was awake when it happened, a whole flock
Alit on the banister beside outdoor stairs.
Frozen wind whipped through my hair as a hundred eyes
Turned toward me in startled mass, all young birds, unpaired.

They sought my advice on that cold winter morning,
As if classrooms might be conducted in a yard.
I told them I knew nothing of mating for life,
That mimicking my lost partner’s call earned no yield,

That my territories weren’t protected, inviolate,
And that my spouse had gone wild, had left our shared nest–
Encouraged them to alight upon different house
As penance, as acknowledgements of my failures.

Those mute birds whistled wings, just observing wan hands.
Next, they would fly to the happy house, snapping bills.


Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), and This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books, forthcoming Spring 2013). She received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her work has been published online and in print in the US, England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, Short Story America, and others, as well as having been nominated for both the story South Million Writers Award and Sundress Publications Best of the Net. Her poetry and fiction have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine and a Fiction Editor for the international refereed journal, Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures & Societies (USA). Please visit her website at

Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She is the author of four chapbooks and her work has appeared in various anthologies. Her collection of prose poems titled This is Not a Situation in Which You Should Remain Calm is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She blogs on social justice, immigration and migration in the Sicilian context at

More of Meg Tuite’s Exquisite Duet at Used Furniture.

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