Sheer Illusion

by Elizabeth Edelgass


[Editor’s Note: This piece is part of the “Topical” series, with each piece solely submitted to and chosen by the Final Reader Pietra Dunmore.]


In a drawer of nudes and whites—
one black bra, sheer
illusion, Chantilly lace
discreetly placed
to mask nipples
like a lover’s hands, aphrodisiac.

A bit of silk and two tiny hooks
secretly scaffold
emboldened breasts. Slender
straps—a mystery how they hold my flesh—
designed to slip,
to tease, to taunt, demibra
meant to magically render
demi-god from body
otherwise disinclined

to flirt, to flaunt. Long months, now,
since I surrendered
to isolation,
breasts set free, unseen, resigned
to body’s disintegration—
who will notice, who draw near?
Bras forsaken, cheeks unpowdered, ears unringed,
no hint of splendor—silk cups dismembered
and coarsely lined to mask face, not bosom.
Black lace,
remembered each time the drawer slips open—
in truth,
unworn for twenty years.


Elizabeth Edelglass is a fiction writer and book reviewer who finds herself writing poetry in response to today’s world—personal, national, and global. Her stories have won the Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, The William Saroyan Centennial Prize, the Lilith short story contest, and the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. Her flash “Partial” was Highly Commended for the Bridport Prize.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Sheer Illusion”?

This terrible year for humanity has offered me one unexpected gift—the chance to study poetry, through the magic of Zoom, with Yvonne Blomer, former Poet Laureate of Victoria, British Columbia, a continent away from my home in Connecticut. After years of publishing short stories, the new challenge of attending to poetry every morning has kept me going through these months of isolation. “Sheer Illusion” was born from my struggle to learn how to write a sonnet. The pandemic year seemed, to me, perfect material for the sonnet form, with its volta—turning point—life before, life now. In early drafts, “Sheer Illusion” was one of a group of pandemic sonnets. Luckily, Yvonne urged me to loosen the constraints and allow this poem to flow more freely, closer to my own voice.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now OPEN. The reading period for standard submissions closes June 15, 2021. Topical Thursdays’ submissions are open year-round. Submit here.


05/24 • Mike Itaya
05/27 • Elizabeth Edelgass
05/31 • Kayla Pongrac
06/03 • TBD
06/07 • TBD
06/10 • TBD
06/14 • TBD
06/17 • TBD
06/21 • TBD
06/24 • TBD
06/28 • TBD
07/01 • TBD
07/05 • TBD