Back to Issue Thirty-Nine




In the Kingdom of the Imperfect, I was
A consolation. My nothings a line of salt.

Grief organized itself inside of me, as if it were my fool
Love for you, or a stocked shelf, a consignment aisle

To wander. The old textbook said Even the bones
Are watery & I know what you mean,

Bones. I ran my hands lightly along each
Hangered dress like brushing the tops of wheat

Stalks in an endless, golden field. What was I, before
You. How was I priced. What woolen name,

Before it was a word that brought me to my own
Brink. Mercy, the second-hand coat’s pocket,

The five-dollar bill forgotten inside. The fury
Of its silk lining’s unspeakable tear. What could be

Found. The long con of the body, & the charlatan
Beloved. Of course I wanted more

Time. A knuckle’s worth. The way a season once
Hunted is now an animal waiting in a shelter, love—

A word left in a pocket. If over half of me
Is water, why can’t the rest be light.






Just for the breath no one else can hear: the crisp
Ignition of this cigarette tip catching its light. Like

The next crop of cicadas, I will have nothing to say
For thirteen years. It was only a girl ago I was lit

By a certainty I wouldn’t make it this far, did not see
Becoming this inelegantly forgetful, how plush carpet

Will make you feel ever like a guest even
In your own room. Sleep is just a metal bucket

Placed under a ceiling leak after an enormous storm.
Love, what I loathe most is how obvious I’ve been

Made: since one of us split I’m now obliged to live
For two, the way a dog can’t help but codify

Every wolf come before. It’s not a secret until you tell it
Historically. Outside it’s early April in the two thousand &

Second visible world. If it were fit to print, the paper would claim
You were survived by me. I would have made of my body a body

To protect her. How the dog turns circles until a soft bowl of grass.
Every spell designed to raise the loved dead has worked

Imperfectly, bringing them back but verbless & grieving
For home. I am simply contaminated with your attention.


Amy Woolard is a writer and legal aid attorney working on civil rights policy and legislation in Virginia. Her debut poetry collection, NECK OF THE WOODS, received the Alice James Award from Alice James Books and was released in April 2020. Her poems have appeared The New Yorker, Poetry, the Paris Review, Boston Review, Ploughshares, and Fence, among others, while her essays and reporting have been featured in publications such as Slate, The Guardian, Pacific Standard, The Rumpus, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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