/a stine

Young Owls

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.