Self-Portrait as a Pair of Shoes Hanging from a Power Line
Notice both of us not because
you have to; sit in your car
at the red light because there’s
something you have to know:
all the birds are already here,
all of them weighing down
this wire, and we’re all fighting
lonesome—we cough up
sand to create our own
castles, our voices rise up
only to become stones
set loose to graze on hillsides.
There’s nothing but time here,
so, wait: we could love you,
though, you should know,
we’ve seen the way you devote
yourself to pavement and always
appear to be rushing, leaving,
even if only molecules
and we know you are gone,
have seen you try to stomp
yourself out like a brown recluse
hiding in the cardboard
of that thing you call a chest.
The strings suspending us
disintegrate like the white
flowers on the church lawn
on which a dog daily pisses.
We’re not afraid, like his owner,
who carries a knife because
she dreams of a faceless stalker—
could be Jesus, an old lady or the po-
lice. This is such an easy town.
Everyone is semi-automatic, and kids
aren’t backed into corners by the white
face of the moon heavy above high-rises.
It’s in the seagull’s glassy
squawk—that dangerous way
one must find a music elastic
enough to carry all the songs
from all of the tides that have stopped
writing secrets of the universe
in sand; we just hum along
as though we already know
that music. It’s not enough—
living with this kind of make-
believe, flying even though
our heads are buried in sand.
Originally from small-town Southeast Texas, Natalie Giarratano received her MFA and PhD in creative writing from Western Michigan University. Her first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, won the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry and was published in June 2013 by Briery Creek Press. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast, American Literary Review, Laurel Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. D.A. Powell selected her work for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Best New Poets, and she won the 2011 Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from Southern California Review. She co-edits Pilot Light, an online journal of 21st century poetics and criticism, teaches writing at American University, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Zach Green, and their pup, Miles.