High school, I gave you my body
and you never gave it back.
For months I baked by the pool slathered in oil sheath,
I lived off Snapple and Mentos just to slip into my prom dress.
Everything was easy.
Nothing was ever enough.
Even before the pain I ached from a nostalgia
so fierce and human that I still long for things long gone:
Where are all of the Magic 8-Balls?
Where are my training bras?
Where is the gym teacher
the one who had me tip over
and touch my toes
during a scoliosis test?
Who has hidden all of the chalk?
Where have all of the matches gone?
Where are library cards,
yellowing at the bottom of lockers?
I wear my slanted posture proud
now I curve over myself, flipping through a glossary of memory.
I catch questions like a cold fever in June
one of my parts eternally sitting in a blowup pool
I pretend I’m a mermaid languid tapping against the glass.
Meaghan Quinn is an Assistant Poetry Editor for The Tishman Review. She holds an MFA from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. She was nominated for Best New Poets 2015, a 2015 Pushcart Prize, and was a recipient of the Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize. Her poems are forthcoming or have been published in A Portrait in Blues: An Anthology, Off the Coast, Heartwood, 2River, Adrienne, Triggerfish, Free State Review, and other journals.
like homeless children in homes, tachycardic
from the insecurity of walls, the way the devil
digs into your pulse, proves that escape is not
history, that the heat of the hole of your head
supplies you with a constant need for intrusions,
the wish the helicopter on fire in your youth
could be drowned in rain, the melted flesh inside
melting away with your patriotism, your black-
and-white photographs of death vermonted
to the high-five days of transcendence when God
existed as heavy as hate and now after the waiting
room is gone, after the counselor’s shoes are in
the past, you almost see a dark bird of peace
approaching the holiday’s police siren lights
Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book from the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/Grand Prize shortlist, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).
Birds still turn through bridge stays, streetways, city parks. Their
wings glitter iridescent, eyes flash red, heads nod with footfalls.
Did anyone know what was coming? Other warriors bound
messages to bird legs, sent these messengers aloft with code,
but the notes arrived late. Buildings hit. Bricks burned yellow
through the night. Buried in the wreckage of another bombing,
bodies crushed or lived on.
Some eat them. Others shoot them in sport. Some governments
rear young falcons to dine on those who infest cities. I’ve read
about them, you said while standing inside the sill on the top floor
of a hotel. Outside the thick glass, one feasted on what she’d
splayed, something bloodied, feather tangled, talon shredded,
young. Beyond the dreamhole, her meal, bodies of skyscrapers,
somewhere the field still swayed with wind. Another for my life
list, you said because counting birds mattered then (eagle, stork,
pigeon, dove). Could this fold be the welcome? Could you count
again what’s good?
Drawn one knee up. Support hip (blanket, block, towel). Rotate
femur. Un-sickle the ankle. Stretch piriformis, then sciatic nerve.
Un-clinch jaw. Fold forward. Stack fists or wrists. Place forehead
there, or if it’s in today’s practice, the floor. Breathe. Push up into
variation ( prayer twist, bow leg, shoulder opener ). Return to a
full expression. The matter isn’t more effort, but to effort less.
Memories, emotions, old wounds arrive. In the class some sniffle
against what burns or aches. Some keep silence. You remember
the story, what you tell yourself about what you did, the meaning
you ascribe. But rather than being caught, you follow sensation
inward, first to the body, then to the breath. Press forehead to the
mat. Let the weight of the spine ease. Come out slowly. Push up.
Shake hips free. Then, find the pose on the second side to create
balance. Remember the cues, alignment prompts. Energy flows
where awareness goes. Release the notes of warning. There’s
awareness of the story now—finally. Wings outstretched, you’re
here among kings opening to the stillness.
Laura Madeline Wiseman teaches writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the editor of two anthologies, Bared and Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Book List. She is the recipient of 2015 Honor Book Nebraska Book Award, Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy of American Poets Award. Her book Drink won the 2016 Independent Publisher Bronze Book Award for poetry. Her latest book is Velocipede (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist for Sports.