Stephanie Cawley


I built a house from the first bodies,
pressed my skin to the unmoving flesh,
breathed the cold smell of wet stone
for centuries. Then I left for the city.
Now I rent a cheap apartment by the river,
take long walks, listen to the living
chatter, their laughter, the secrets
they whisper into cell phones.

But sometimes I miss the galaxies
lodged in human eyes so bad, I pause
the DVD, get down on my knees,
and squint at the screen. It is always
too dark. Looking down at the ground
I might kill a ladybug or a black beetle
clinging to a leaf. When it happens,
I carry them in my pockets, their bodies
small pebbles I skip into the river.
There they might become soft,
wrapped in algae, nibbled by salt.

I study the crevices in sidewalks
until I can chart the constellations
of shattered glass. The world breaks
apart at every surface. Children
throw stones at my snakes. As the rocks
sting my arms, I think I recognize
shards of my mother's legs, my sister's
small feet, my lover's curly head.
Even the dead I never looked at
are all I see in the dirt.