Volume 68, Number 2 · Spring 2019

Annunciation Elegy

You never knew I let you off the hook.
Don’t fall in love, you warned—just a joke.
Our final essays about to be turned in,
a footbridge crossing the river to your dorm,
my hair still damp, your flannel on my skin—
no quips, no jokes—we both had eight o’ clocks.

If asked what you were like back then, I’d blank,
though I recognize you on your Facebook page,
whose name I never said to anyone.
I never told you. I spared myself the sight
of some imaginary speck you might
flick off your jacket if I did, or worse—
some starry something spreading in your head.

(My roommate went with me, a hand to squeeze.)
Among the shadows in the lecture hall
the morning after, another angel filled
the screen—he couldn’t slow his massive wings,
or Mary calm herself—she dropped her book.
You never knew I let you off the hook.


Debra Bruce’s most recent book is Survivors’ Picnic, and her poems appear widely in journals including the Cincinnati Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Mezzo Cammin, Poetry, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. She is professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University and lives in Chicago.