Alice Pettway is a former Lily Peter fellow, Raymond L. Barnes Poetry Award winner, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her first full-length collection, The Time of Hunger | O Tempo de Chuva, is available now from Salmon Poetry. A second book, Moth, is forthcoming in 2019. Currently, she lives and writes in Shanghai.




I changed shoes for the burial.

The earth, soft from rain,

was hungry for the black stems

of my funeral heels.


It was hungry for you too,

waiting only for lurid green turf

to give way to reality,

a hole gouged in a field.


The funeral director looked

away; your brothers

pulled back plastic ground,

took up shovels.


I grasped a handle too—bent

my woman’s body into pivot

of muscle and dirt until the throb

of earth on wood faded, until soil

landed on soil as softly as snow

on snow, until there was no hole.


The men stood silent. Burial

is no more a man’s task

than birth is.



In Montreal


the power failed.

Dark sifted through cold,

a halo of shadow around downed towers.

The city waited. The country waited.

Hogs lay frozen against the ditch,

smelling of snow, flesh crystallized

beneath skin. We waited

for the ground to thaw.