Tessa Ellison Rossi

The Undoing

It was supposed to be a retreat.
A weekend.
An introspection, a meditation.
Morning and quiet, walks in the woods.
The pine needles, scented. Soft sand underfoot.
A lake, the coolness of water, sun-dappled.
Evenings, the mice in the cabin and moths on the windscreen.
Building a bonfire, embers glowing.
Ashes on air currents, rising, a shimmering.
Something ignites. It carries a woman.
She records it in pencil, the refraction, a specter.
A man between her thighs and a friction that passes for love.
It burns, so she goes to the water. To the beginning.
Night on the rocks, their arms barely brushing.
Restless hands, before the touching.
Ache between words, a leaden quiet.
For the one kiss, she dives into dark waters.
Finds instead too many years gone.
So tiring, this swimming. She’s forgotten so much, the everything.
To the last breath, her eyes track a small paper boat.
It meets the horizon as bubbles meet air.
Her notebook, a white flag, waves in the shallows come morning.

About the Author

Tessa Ellison Rossi holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and a JD from New York University. Tess was awarded a Grace Paley Fellowship, a 2019 Arts Westchester Teaching Artist Grant, and attended the 2021 Napa Valley Writer’s Conference. She is a fiction editor at Variant Lit and was a reader for the Gurfein Fellowship. She runs writing workshops and salons in the lower Hudson Valley and is currently at work on a collection of linked stories and poems. She has studied with David Ryan, David Hollander, Nelly Riefler, Angela Pneumann, and Frank McCourt. Find her on Twitter @TRossiWriter.