Reliquary by Annie Stenzel

Photo of wrapped gifts
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

“Lose something every day. Accept the fluster . . .” (Elizabeth Bishop)

Every once in a while I open
one of too-many, tiny

boxes, and there you are,
bright stab of memory: My brave

lover from long ago. I see you
exactly as you were then, because

time took care to preserve the details,
the same way amber traps an insect

for eternity. One could almost
map the genome from this fossil:

golden ring with its garnet chip.
I used to wear it on my little finger.

There are things we find
that were never hidden

even if we didn’t know
exactly where they were.

Nothing of this kind is ever
lost, though after countless years

of practice, we may think
we have mastered that delicate art.


Annie Stenzel
Annie Stenzel (she/her) was born in Illinois, but did not stay put. Her poems appear in Atlanta Review, Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Kestrel, Lily Poetry, Nixes Mate, On the Seawall, SWWIM, Thimble, and The Lake, among others. A poetry editor for the online journals Right Hand Pointing and West Trestle Review, she lives on unceded Ohlone land within walking distance of the San Francisco Bay.

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