The Encounter

by Constance Hansen

I have abandoned
the desire to learn

the name of the woman
floating in my childhood

bathtub. The first time I asked,
she stepped out of her polka dot dress

and into a cloak of clamshells and kelp.
The second time, she just stood there

dripping saltwater on the bathmat.
The third time, her index finger rose

to her lips in warning gesture. I ran
into my brother’s room to swipe a soft

pack of Marlboro Reds in offering,
but when I returned, she was gone.

I wonder after her
no more or less often

than cathedral pigeons
shitting down a fractal staircase

marvel at the vanishing
miracle of math.


Constance Hansen is an editorial assistant at Poetry Northwest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming at Harvard Review Online and EcoTheo Review. She was a finalist for the 2021 Fugue Poetry Contest. Constance holds degrees from Middlebury College (BA Religion), The University of Washington (MFA Poetry), and Seattle University (Masters in Teaching). She lives in Seattle with her partner and young daughters.