WAYS OF FALLING
The cinched belt of the hour-glass—
that week: Shelly moved
into a basement apartment,
done with her stepson’s addiction,
her husband’s blind eye,
Amanda’s brother’s body
found room temperature,
bloating, sprawled by the tub
when the police kicked through the door.
Jen’s fragile mom made an appointment
at the salon to wash the blood from her hair
after her collapse in the kitchen.
Her father couldn’t remember the word
for glass, the word for piano.
We jogged through the neighborhood
where redbuds puckered purple
and young mothers
pushing strollers stopped to gossip
along the sidewalk. We shrugged
off our sweaters.
We drank margaritas on the porch as the skies
paled. Two swifts feathered past your head.
We toasted no answers for anyone.
We asked for soft as flannel,
touching ourselves with fingertips
to show what we meant,
but the outcomes were scratchy
or textured. We said, “No, no, no.
like this,” and again tried to explain,
to exhibit, to diagram—our only choice
to keep trying. We made faces;
we wrote in block letters across the walls;
someone even stood on a desk
to make the point, stamping his feet,
violently waving his arms. Outside,
the skies had turned a vibrant
shade of ochre—the clouds
split by the sun’s burning baldness
as it sank—so lovely we stopped
for a minute to watch. Still,
it wasn’t quite what we wanted.
A Professor at Georgia State University, Beth Gylys has published three collections of poetry: Sky Blue Enough to Drink (Grayson Books, 2015), Spot in the Dark (Ohio State UP 2004, the Journal Prize) and Bodies that Hum (Silverfish Review Press 1999, Gerald Cable First Book Award) and two chapbooks Matchbook (La Vita Poetica Press 2007 and Balloon Heart (Wind Press 1998, Quentin R. Howard Award). Awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, The University of Cincinnati, and Syracuse University, her work has been featured on the Writers Almanac and Poetry Daily. She has had poetry published in many anthologies and journals including Rattle, Barrow Street, Paris Review, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and The Southern Review.