The Student Literary Journal of Vermont State University

my friend grasped the top wire between her fingers
I pressed the bottom wire down with my instep
wriggled through but my pants tore

I never was elegant slipping into small spaces
I have stood in this raw pasture
I have stared down the ants

the purpled balls of clover
tamed planets circling a dance of dead stars
some portion of good in the twenty-first century

wars of mud and rare metal worming across the deltas
new year photographs from around the world
brown faces smeared in blood

white faces profiled beneath ribboned helmets
the insinuation clear that they have already won
they have time for sport

even one slim body spearing the sky
an olive on a toothpick except the sky is the olive
when we say take for granted we are speaking of gifts

describing the small act of reaching for a rock or for raisins
buzzing smelly air into our tires
inquiring about an illness the tests the symptoms

what is the cardinal sign of unspeakable loss
the spot beyond which one step becomes a stutter
I stripped off my jacket because the rain was stuck in the clouds

I stripped off my woolen shirt because the heat noosed
my ankles and bent me over
I was trying to get someone to look and run away

after all I was nearly naked
I sounded defensive to my own ear
I imagined myself leaning down to whisper

this was as good as the twenty-first century
our stupid ideas taking off on yellow wings
lining our eyelids with a hot pencil

the better to peer into the split of the heavens
the soft place where the male god enters
nobody was going to fall in love or pray

to an obsession with long hair or a taste for feathers
I knew it was time to approach a friend at random
hand her something wrapped in paper

the sun was sagging into its sling
she scratched long rays around a circle in the dirt
she used the longest stick she could find

she had been sexed like a chicken
held to the light
she was going to own up to everything

careful blades hacking the air
cubes cracking on the sidewalk
the toughest of the lilies coughing into its hands
LISA LEWIS’s books include The Unbeliever(Brittingham Prize), Silent Treatment (National Poetry Series), Vivisect, (New Issues Press), and Burned House with Swimming Pool (American Poetry JournalPrize, Dream Horse Press). A fifth volume, The Body Double, will be published in 2015 by Georgetown Review Presss. New work appears or is forthcoming in Florida Review, Carolina Quarterly, American Literary Review, Guernica, Sugar House Review, and Tampa Review. She directs the creative writing program at Oklahoma State University and serves as poetry editor for the Cimarron Review.