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  • KATIE VAGNINO

How to Explain Death to Your Daughter



Tell her on a cloudless afternoon—

a Sunday in November, maybe,


after the leaves have fallen

and the ground’s first hard freeze,


or during spring’s first inkling

before the buds or birds are back.


When she asks questions

that are impossible to answer,


touch the top of her perfect head

and say that death is necessary, as natural


as sugar dissolving in a glass of lemonade,

leaving its essence to linger.


Poem: KATIE VAGNINO is a poet, educator, and freelance writer based in Saint Paul. She holds degrees from Emerson College and Yale and teaches creative writing at the Loft Literary Center and the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.


Art: SYDNEY E. WILLCOX is a narrative painter, potter, printmaker, high school art teacher, and parenting partner of six. She loves stories of transformation and aspiration. She seeks to encourage the way light streaming through stained glass windows illustrates story and prayers.



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