My Husband’s Medals

by Nance Van Winckel

Where are they?
He shrugs. What were
they?
He rolls his eyes.
When did you last
see them?
In a headache
last week, in a bad
dream last month.

Nance Van Winckel’s fifth collection of poems is No Starling (2007, U. of Washington Press). She’s received two NEA Poetry Fellowships as well as awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. New poems appear in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Field, and Gettysburg Review. She is also the author of three collections of short fiction and a recipient of a Christopher Isherwood Fiction Fellowship. New fiction can be found in AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, and Kenyon Review. She lives near Spokane, Washington and teaches in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

What do you think is the challenge of “compression”? For me, to COMPRESS means, first of all, to DIGEST. Let the too-much sit and settle or swirl and blur. Eventually, if I’m patient and lucky, the essential bits float to the top and I’m there in the nick of time to skim them off.

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