/lauren swift

as in an antique shop, look but do not touch

though we’ve long thawed into spring
winter still keeps me within her,
tangled in the tortuous architecture
of a place I do not understand

it is a place I want to call benign,
but that is very inexact

more accurate maybe are the images
of jellyfish that are on my mind,
beautiful and lonely, dangerous if
stroked but if you keep your space
you need not even worry

so I keep the small, sustaining things near:
a kettle, a stone, a blanket
for my fingers to fiddle with—

how does a body such as this fall into step
with another

how can it be a tame beast
trembling when shame pings everywhere inside

how can it love when a new freeze comes
before the drip of bloom has even dried

touring a city that is reflected in the waters

no, not the city—
its reflection
after the rain, maybe,
or in a birdbath on the patio
or what pools inside of you
when you are grieving

the city upside down
the city where foundations are surfaced
where ceilings require a dive

how do you locate shame in this city
or fury or love or your favorite café
where you will relearn how to drink your coffee
so that it spills up into you

feet before crown,
language before silence
ash before a flame
a death and then a romance

when you look from your window here
you can see everything rooted in the sky
and stars in the soil

Lauren Swift‘s poems and nonfiction have appeared in Cimarron Review, North
American Review, The 2River View, The Rumpus, Utterance Journal
, and
Poets.org as the recipients of Academy of American Poets Prizes in 2016 and
2019. She holds an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. You can
find her online at www.laurenswift.com.