Back to Issue Seventeen.

from another dormitory



I. Where You Are (vii)

Everything begins and ends here.
Still, the girls are sleeping in the narrow bunks.
Still, in their sleep, they call out.

Hey, Beloved… 

Hey, Brother…

 Hey, Back of Beyond… 

Hey, Girl I once was long ago…

They tell you that it takes ten years of being blind
before your body gives up dreaming about sight.

Outside, the summer starts to cool.
When the trees flame into matches
the girls put their hands out
of the windows, litter the floor with leaves,
call it a map.

The birch tree’s sharp leaves make one continent.
the dogwood’s make another.

At night, before inspection,
they gather them up in armfuls,
and throw the whole world out the window.

II. Oxygen

One woman brings her baby to work, walks with him between the aisles
of beds to be sure we are sleeping. She holds him close to her chest.
Sometimes, if the night is calm, she will reach down, touch my hand as she passes, as if
she has forgotten she does not believe I can sense it, forgotten I was never anyone’s child.

            Wrist: small flawless place on my body;
second home of my heartbeat

            Infant: planet of heat; flawless animal;
what I was meant to become

            Air: thing that changes temperature,
tells you when another body is near


Molly McCully Brown is the author of The Virginia State Colony For Epileptics and Feebleminded, which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and will be published in 2017 by Persea Books. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Colorado Review,  Image, TriQuarterly Online, Kenyon Review, The Rumpus and elsewhere. Raised in rural Virginia, she holds degrees from Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Stanford University. Currently, she is a John and Renée Grisham Fellow at the University of Mississippi.

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