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✧ Winner of the 2022 Gearhart Poetry Contest ✧

Selected by Benjamin Garcia

Closed Circuit

After Félix González-Torres’ “untitled (perfect lovers)”

My therapist draws in blue pen two circles

on a lined notepad. I twist my wedding band

with the fingers of my other hand. The two

lines intersect to make three shapes. Sitting

across from her, the third shape looks like an

open eye. “In this diagram, there is too much

overlap to be considered a healthy relationship.”

She draws a second set of circles, their concave

shapes connect only at a shared edge, as if

each is facing away. “Healthy relationships

consist of two distinct individuals.” Her wall

clock frowns, hollow-faced, hands apart.

From my position, the second diagram looks

like the symbol for infinity. The clock snaps.

I wonder if she sees symmetry the way I do:

a camera lens spins at each end until a subject

is pulled into focus; a total eclipse requires

two celestial bodies and begins with a stage

called First Contact; it’s common for two

women in love to put their whole hands inside

each other. I no longer measure my age from

my birth, but from the precise second we met.


CARLING MCMANUS (they/she) is a queer poet whose work appears in Pleiades, Best New Poets, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Meridian, Moist Poetry Journal, Carve Magazine, and Pigeon Pages. Carling’s writing has been recognized with fellowships, scholarships, and grants from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Find more poems at


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