They Say This is How the Ogre Lost His Heart

by W. Todd Kaneko

Mortality begins with memory
in one hand, inside an egg: that photo
of a bride before the war, that shadow
in the ogre’s chest. He reveals
his empty palm, ditched it all
before the pigeons arrived
to roost in his pockets.

A man can fashion a wardrobe of slick
gestures, a legerdemain to keep his house
from caving in, his body from crumpling
into heaps of overcoats. He summons a bouquet
of doves from his hat, a sleeveful of rabbits
quiet and wary for hawks.

Hands can be stealthy, lovesick
foxes or tiny owls who doubt the night.
Memory can be palmed in other locations—
a silent birdcage, a maiden
name, evenings spent sitting
with a vanishing woman.
Try to contain it all in nimble
fingers like miserable yolk.

W. Todd Kaneko lives and writes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work has appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, Southeast Review, Lantern Review, NANO Fiction, the Collagist, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop. He teaches at Grand Valley State University. Visit him at

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