The only owls you see are juveniles and the only way
this lasts is if it gets to be real and real is cigarettes
and kissing you anyway real is anger but not driving
anywhere real is skim on the unbroken pond real is working
this out in a car real is writing what I say in my sleep
in case it’s a riddle you need to enter the kingdom of later
real is whatever skin that hangs will be rich as the flesh
that hugs the young bone the unbroken brow the blessing
of the youth and girl whatever bruise that rises black
will be sung as the fist that flew in the night
whichever men that hurt will be buried with duct tape
darken their eyes that they may not see
the river of the razed bush the twisting of the winced limbs
our settled hearts that nest like birds whatever is dark
will be done in the light whatever is pain will be done
with love whatever happened without permission
will happen again with a hundred yeses and I can stop it
and you can stop it and we don’t stop it I like the champagne
that gave you a scar you worship the willow that taught me
gills you said my breasts were sleeping doves I mean
in the day this is when you see them the owls at night
well any of them can do what they like
it’s only the babies like us in the day who are brave.
The Collage Artist
The switch laid down a road.
Later, bruises were buckshot
stars. It didn’t matter. What
mattered was that we loved them.
The bread left in the grass
for swan or fox—it made no
difference. You took out
scissors, a box of scraps: flame-
shaped, a scene glimpsed
through a door. Sometimes
I imagine we have tattoos
where it hurts, the skin with no
roof, etched onto bone.
When we linked hands, they would
clink or burn. Early on I tried
to cover the nicks on my knees
with clouds. But you loved
the little killdeer—not injured,
only protecting. As I was defending
my dirt heart. Our tattoo would be
the same: what we both did, years
ago, separately, and still: survive.
I kept saying I looked
symmetrical. Really I meant: loved.
Alison Stine’s most recent book of poetry is Wait (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011) which won the Brittingham Prize, and her most recent book of fiction is The Protectors (Little A, 2015), a novella about graffiti artists. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Nation, The Paris Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere, and her essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Toast, and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Appalachia with her son.