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Prompt: “Taking a cue from our craft resource, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that plays with voice. For example, you might try writing a stanza that recounts something in the first-person, followed by a stanza recounting the same incident in the second-person, followed by a stanza that treats the incident from a third-person point of view. Or you might try a poem in the form of a dialogue, which necessarily has two “I” speakers, addressing two “you”s. Another way to go is to take an existing poem of yours or someone else’s, and try rewriting it in a different voice. The point is just to play with who is speaking to who and how. Happy writing!”
She Tells Me
She fears figure eight, because it’s
infinite. Also, being alone, flying,
playing the flute. At one end,
is the void of a night sky, its cold,
unforgiving mouth sucking us
into space; at the other, the feel
of tiny feet in her palm.
Fragile, papery things, hardly real.
I used to watch her wax statues
cave in, hair and skin melting
like tears. A sort of punishment.
Nothing could possibly be
more terrifying. She speaks
for them sometimes, the wax
people. An alter ego more than
a ventriloquist. A shapeshifter.
She could have become
a wax person. She still might.
When in the North, she’s afraid
of the fir chlis, the nimble men
dancing across the sky. Up there,
what doesn’t belong has a vile
odor—the air so clean, everything
taints it. Everything, except ice.
She hates it, the ice, how brittle
it is, how vindictive. She hates
the sound it makes underfoot.
The tears that freeze on her cheek.
The blood that never washes off,
no matter how many times
she plunges her hands in the snow.
Something could always
be worse than melting wax,
she tells me, worse than staring
at asymmetrical things, her own
imperfections, a baby footprint,
the ruins of someone’s home.
She could forget to be afraid,
forget what it felt like, the burden
unleashed from the prison
of her body, forget how gravity
tugged at her innards, split her
open under the great void,
like a fish, gutted, deboned
on the shore of an immense pain.
And she could forget all that
blood—a river, a whole ocean
of it—flowing and ebbing,
farther and farther away.