Issue 4 / Poetry

Poetry by Lucy Wainger

The story is kicking up dust

and I want finally to finish telling it. On the last night, we realized neither of us had ever hit or been hit. We sat at a conference table, she spoke of Herakles, the words math and macadamia tossed like salt, and I decided a story is only a story once it gets told. Imagine a tale of boy-flesh and betrayal, transmitted through a fist, a bodily instant. Imagine treating bruised cheekbones like historical documents. The story is that we stood in the kitchen, I hit her, she hit me harder, then we brewed tea in the microwave. How it came to be what it is I can’t be sure. I tell myself the story of that last night, everyone hugging goodbye and wondering what happens now. What comes next. I keep forgetting that although we left, the kitchen didn’t. That according to the evidence, neither of us has hit or been hit.


Myth in which daughters become their own gravestones

We glossed our feet with salt and didn’t let the goats lick it off, of course the lake didn’t stay frozen, of course it cracked and we went under. You let me give golden hands to a sculptor. Don’t act like you didn’t know it was coming. I’m whispering this next part. I miss your elephants, the bones of your ankles. I miss fighter planes. We sit in front of a house fire every day and talk about the bombs, corkscrews, and your hair, but do you even remember what the sky looked like? A hundred years ago. Wait, that’s not right. The rock candy you bought on your birthday? That’s not right either. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have tried to write it. I write down my dream and I forget it instantly, I touch a wave and it becomes a particle and all to relive a single day, but can you blame me? A day we could see the entire electromagnetic spectrum. A day our eyes shone with a golden light.


In event of moon disaster: The Cruelty of Metaphor

We lost our boys to outer space and so we’ve buried them at sea.

The thing is, you know they’re never gonna find another way to

do it. Next decade or century or however long it takes us to mourn


and move on—the next boy who doesn’t come back is gonna have

his memory thrown into the ocean too, and the one after him, and

after him, and him. And I mean it’s only logical. The only thing


that makes our bellies churn like the thought of deep space is the

thought of deep sea. The dark cold crush, the floating, the wreck-

age, the creatures with many eyes … This is a different kind of loss,


though. A sunken ship is out of sight but we can still feel it like

a bulb of mercury inside. A piece of shrapnel navigating the blood-

stream. Not a grenade-blown limb soaring past enemy lines.


In event of moon disaster: Dear Neil,

How am I supposed to write an elegy when you are not dead to me?

It would be better if you were. It would even be better if you were

missing. But I know exactly where you are. How am I supposed to


let you go when you won’t leave me alone? Every night and there

you are, bleach-white upon my window. The waves reach for you

like hands. The wolves howl your name. The closest thing I’ve got


to a gravestone is the American flag they say you jammed in the

ground as soon as you landed. A whole country is mourning you,

baby, a whole planet is murmuring condolences, can’t you hear?


Lucy Wainger’s poems have appeared/will appear in the Blueshift Journal, Textploit, Black & BLUE, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She has attended summer writing workshops at UVa and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, and in the fall she will be a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Selected by Yasmin Belkhyr.

Image © Daniel Zimmermann via Flickr Creative Commons.