Back to Issue Thirty-Six

In the Hot Tub With My Wife, Waiting for the Vet to Call



Only after, in the tea-colored garden water, turning amber
and nearly gold from the cedar planks,

once he was safe, did we begin to understand.
Our Honeybear had been in the ICU all night.

We didn’t know if something was wrong inside him:
he’d swallowed five pieces of that neon green chew toy that looked

honestly like a dildo, then puked and lay listlessly,
the brightness in his eyes shuttered. As we waited for the doctor,

R described him as the biggest surprise of her life, called him
our kid— how baffling, how beautiful to be 40 years old and not know

how your heart can become larger. When we heard yes

he would be okay, we climbed naked into the hot tub, descending
into the crisply cold wooded water, and above us the tree

with the crinkly white flowers dropped them and dropped them, while R
put her mouth around my nipples and her fingers inside

me and the day was light, the lightness of a fear releasing,
but it was also heavy: heavy like honey, the way when you are alone, you can go

anywhere you want, just get on a plane, and when you are two, it might not
be so easy, you have to see if the other one can go, or if the other one

wants to, and then it was three of us, my wife and myself and the dog’s
soft self, held together, held to one spot on the earth at a time.




Swimming Past the Scallop Dredgers and Still Wanting a Child



Loch na-Keal is clear. Cold.
We swim through gold
while dredgers near here
toothe open the sea’s beds

of sediment, nutrient, eggs, the sticky
mucus threads of bivalves,
and phytoplankton whose bright cells
carry carbon, turn it into oxygen.

It sounds, I know, like weighted chains,
dragging up the soft bodies
of the scallops, and with them,
the by-catch, the trembling

excess they won’t even eat or sell.
As children, my sister nursed
baby-dolls, while I read books.
She put them in a circle, clucking

around them, making a small world
she could keep safe. Darling,
what could we make? And what
would we have to take from the earth

radiant with damage, to nourish upon it
another child? The sea is pearled
with plastic, the sky is orange
and somewhere, a man carrying his sister

can no longer carry her. He puts her down
in the shade. And even so, yesterday,
we clocked our cycles, and I dreamt
of a child as freckled as you, a Kent plum,

walking with us by the sea, tracing
each rock-pool’s shape with her thumb.
Yesterday, our beloved Conor
showed me a scallop shell he dove for:

each as heavy as a tea-cup, full
of the water it lives from. As he bears it up
gently, a puff of silt rises in a zigzag. He knows
what he took, and where.




Everything I Don’t Know



On the moped, we cross the island, pass the ferocious blue sea,
its underneath of urchins and grass. I hold her from behind.

Thoughts of wanting a baby pass through me like a shadow.
Thoughts of or do I not want a baby pass through me like a shadow.

My love and I have many ways we do it: stroking her
til she lands on the cock, and the many-hued world

shoots in me again: Technicolor. Our bodies, every time,
start over: bright, new. Always two. Such quiet after.

The sea is clear, silver pickerel visible through the grass.
Cloudy, then clear, I swim every day. In it like a frog. Come evening,

my niece and I trade stories on the phone. In mine, everything
has agency: ballerina slippers fret; boogers fall out of a nose

and get lost. I make each weirdo
and their thoughts, and she belly laughs, her thoughts

bubbling and wild, then spinning away, already
thinking of something else. Did I want to make

something I can’t control, bending
the way a poem does when suddenly

my own new but not yet known
thought climbs up to pound on the door of my heart?


Nomi Stone‘s second poetry collection Kill Class (Tupelo 2019), based on her anthropological fieldwork across the United States and the Middle East, was recently a finalist for the Julie Suk Award. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright, and broadcast across buses by the Poetry Society of America in Rhode Island, Stone’s poems appear recently in POETRYAmerican Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, and elsewhere. An Assistant Professor in Poetry at the University of Texas, Dallas, Stone’s new poetry collection in progress, “Fieldworkers of the Sublime”, was recently a finalist for Bull City Press’s Frost Place Chapbook competition. Her first anthropological monograph Pinelandia: Human Technology and American Empire/ an anthropology and field-poetics of contemporary war is forthcoming (UC Press, 2022).

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