The flutter of paper thin eyelids,
                        butterflies   ^
the dry rattle, the absence of a pulse.
                       ^                      ^
                  snake                    ,
She planted lilac and larkspur to dull the pain.
                       sage        winecup     ^              sun
The prairie is as barren as dreams.
         desert            lush

EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #13: First Sentences, which required that the first sentence in the text must be used as given. Or in this case, quite cleverly, perhaps not. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.


Stephanie K. Brownell is an interdisciplinary writer, artist and educator based in Boston. She is a former Kennedy Center Fellow at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, a member of Company One’s 2017 PlayLab, and a Core Member of Artists’ Theatre of Boston. Stephanie is the recipient of the 2015 National Partners of the American Theatre Excellence in Playwriting Award and runner up for WomenWorks 2015 for her nonlinear drama She Eats Apples. Her poem-play Eskimo Pie was a 2014 finalist for the Gary Garrison 10-Minute Play Award and her fiction is forthcoming in the collaborative novel Esyld’s Awakening from CW Publishing. Stephanie teaches writing at Bentley University and GrubStreet Writing Community. BA: Carroll University. MFA: Boston University. Visit her website.



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