Back to Issue Twenty-Nine.

I was the girl who jumped first


into the sanest danger, from ledges a sensible
length above the creek, tide just high enough
to cover the mundane wreckage
of small town reckless—Chevies and shopping
carts, corpse-cows fat with fermented clover—
down deep where currents creep, quick
and colder. There, sunk in the silt: the girl,
the ghost, the gift, my country spooked
me with. Two towns over, she vanished
from her bed or was rumored rotten
in man-tall grass by moon-licked
railroad tracks. The prologue always
the same: she wandered, she strayed
from. Yes, fear twice removed
is fear. I grew into the girl who never stayed
past curfew. I always drove myself
so I’d never have to owe, or beg
my way. I accelerated out of every turn
in my mother’s roll-prone Jeep. Protected
by a physics I barely grasped, I circled
risk beneath those fog-dulled stars.
I never took a goddamn thing too far.



Time Capsule: The Uneven Field


Yes, I went to the field like a virgin          to the mouth of a volcano,
meaning I was in love          with my ornaments: the jeweled tug          at my lobes, the gold
                    squeeze at my throat.          Each pulse, the secret hollow          behind
each ear, swooned          with sandalwood and slumber.          Grasshoppers
 slammed themselves against my bare midriff.          Yes, I came to gather eyes like moths. 
                    I came despite. I knew          the common root
of sacrifice     and sacrament.         It was a rite     of passage,     to be named
for the part the beckoned best.         Yes, I went to the field like a bride
drunk on dowry,      all that worth, all that sparkle          in his stare.     Yes, I wanted
to be watched,                     thus christened. Yes, there          are men who promise
sunlight in the wrong season,          glow enough to grow          a girl right up,
and other girls return, shining          like the moon,          meaning on the other side
of that romanticized light,     there is a dark          treeline where anything could hide.
                    Husk of daylight       heavening the sky.
Fragrance of wild     vines coiling          barbed wire, blossoming     small white stars
                    named Jasmine, Honeysuckle.          Hush:
the field was a body            of water. I learned to float     by holding still. The field
was a mirror that returned my body to me     through his eyes.     No, the field was a body
of water, and I kept sinking          through my own reflection.          The slightest scramble
                    between sacred        and scared. Aware
suddenly of the cold          in my cut-offs and crop-top. Sheer,
the drop.      No, I didn’t fall      for him.
If I burned,     it was for beauty. That plummet     through the many-storied night.

Erin Rodoni is the author of two poetry collections: Body, in Good Light (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2017) and A Landscape for Loss (NFSPS Press, 2017), winner of the Stevens Award. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Poetry Northwest, and The Rumpus. She has been the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award, a Ninth Letter Literary Award, the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize, and has been included in Best New Poets.


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