Back to Issue Nineteen.




Before I had to live in an enormous body in a miniscule world,

I took my round existence         with no ledges to perch on.

Want was a matter of perpetual suspension, a liquid cot

That gave me       dreams of having holes.

Rats were beloved in their brutal habits. I had no trouble

Clearing out the attic of a nerve.          Nothing was gentle

Or faintly gracious. The sound of pocketknives carving

The cochlea.   The wet reminder of an eye.

Then you came, littering space        raising your solar finger

To flush each fold with a pink and orange fever.

When you were cold and out of color       you could not stop

Hanging the world with yourself           in cheap restless strips.



grown daughter



We sit side by side at a round table
impossibly smoking from one orifice in the wall.

As you can see we are leaning forward
on our chair legs, pressing our faces to the faucet

we practiced kissing when we were young.
Then we are practicing empathy for our future

infants—for me I am her past mouth—
sucking the mammal so strenuously love gives

rise to a sense of hollowness, of outpouring,
of energetic stealth. The pillow has no give,

like silence. We did not practice on that. But
I still rock my body between two pillows placed

the long way to prove I am easy to bear
and too protected to console—

It gets late and mother doesn’t remember how
to address me, as doctor or Mrs. or clock.

I cannot tell mother from the numbers on her face.
I cannot tell time without her winding around,

and misreading needs me brave and naked
and dead. When mother asks what time it is now,

I ask her to turn down her death, my dial,
and tuck me in.

Elizabeth Metzger is the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal. In 2013, she won the Narrative Poetry Contest and was listed as one of Narrative’s 30 Under 30. Her poetry has recently appeared in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review Online, BOMB, Yale Review, Guernica, and Best New Poets 2015. Her essays and reviews appear in PN Review, the Southwest Review, and Boston Review. Her debut collection, The Spirit Papers, won the 2016 Juniper Prize and will be published by University of Massachusetts Press in January 2017. Her chapbook, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, will be published by Horsethief Books in 2017. You can read more of her work at

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