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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Microfiction: 193 words
By Roberta Beary

The Body in the Bed


Maybe Mary wets the washcloth. Maybe she wipes the body’s face, avoiding stray nose hairs. Maybe she’s amazed they still annoy her. Maybe Mary moves her pear shape down the stairs, holding formerly forbidden pink towels. Maybe she arranges them in the powder room and admires the cursive sway of initials. Maybe she thinks about a river cruise, of how he’d said they’re a stupid waste of money. Maybe she snacks on peanut butter scooped straight from the jar between swipes on her pet-finder app. Maybe Mary returns to the bedroom, pinches the body, but gets no response. Maybe Mary’s lips press together as an echo hums, “A new client needs me.” Maybe client is his name for his girlfriend. Maybe a thinner, prettier, younger version of this Mary, also called Mary. Maybe that Mary likes one-week luxury river cruises. Maybe this Mary sighs loudly before placing her phone on the night table. Maybe she shifts her bulk and lies down beside the cooling body. And maybe, just maybe, Mary covers them both with a blanket, because she remembers how much her husband hates the cold.

Roberta Beary
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

grew up in Queens, New York and identifies as gender-fluid. They divide their time between USA and Ireland. Their honors include: Winner of Bridport Prize for Poetry, Best Microfiction 2019 & 2021, and The Best Small Fictions 2020 & 2022. Their work is featured in The New York Times, Rattle, Atticus Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and other publications. They are the longtime haibun editor for Modern Haiku.

Follow on Twitter: [at]shortpoemz

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Guest: Roberta Beary on Rattlecast 133 hosted by Tim Green, editor of Rattle poetry journal (YouTube, 28 February 2022)

Featured Author: Roberta Beary in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 12, March 2022)

Roberta Beary, haiku poet and editor, on writing Haibun, interview with Mike Rehling, editor of Failed Haiku (YouTube, 8 February 2021)

Tiny Love Stories in The New York Times (8 January 2019); scroll five stories down the page for Roberta Beary’s “Now It’s All Fresh Fish” and her photograph of lobster traps in Clew Bay, Ireland.

The art of brevity, an interview by Ciara Moynihan in Mayo News (22 January 2019)

Lunch Break, a haibun by Beary in Rattle (#56, Summer 2017), Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness; includes audio (17 July 2017)

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