Back to Issue Twenty-One.

of destinations



this is destruction         splash of gasoline

a hornet’s nest knocked from the overhang
the bodies      curled
brittle the thorax
the wing

I have slipped in and out
of destinations—

a word that implies more than passing
implies meant to be

smoke rolls up from the south
summer months
the swamp is burning
has burned

will continue                this unvarying landscape

long stretches of highway
the marsh grass
dried golden and hollow

last week I woke with no idea
where I was      or who lay next to me

I am searching for something

less ephemeral
among the young and unattached

a dangerous thing—an eave
an extended invitation

that we should arrive so willingly
at this paper house

that we should stand over it
as it burns        but tenderly



the path of pins or the path of needles



Come closer: this house is full of keyholes.
Glass knobs
fractured, faceted—


           You could spend your life here.
A door swings open:
time stops
quick as a watch.


Look: there you are,
sitting on the edge
of a bed, a patchwork quilt,
hand raised
to comb your hair.


                        This is not a farmhouse.
There are no chickens in the yard,
no tomato vines
curling up the casement.


                                                      This is no bad dream disguised
as something clever.


        The hallway’s full of white doors,
brass keyholes.

               The walls are crumbling,
ants carry off the smaller pieces.
Crickets have poisoned the well.


                                                            Be still.
In the kitchen, a woman hunched
over the ashes of old cigarettes
keeps your name in her basket.


Kyla Sterling earned her MFA in poetry at UNC–Greensboro. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly, Parcel, Radar Poetry, Blackbird, Barrow Street, and Notre Dame Review, among others. Her first chapbook, Warnings & Fables, is forthcoming with dancing girl press. She currently lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and their cat.

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