Poetry Month: Postcards from Her Alternate Lives (Pierce)

Postcards from Her Alternate Lives


Each day the city unhinges its jaw and I climb inside.
I sing show tunes and polish its teeth. At night, I ride
its lit scales into glittered, showstopping dreams.


Sister, the desert is more even than I dreamed. On each
rock rests a bowl of water, a wooden flute, a lizard.
The clouds swoop into the shape of my fears, then
blow off into the next country.


I live between mountains and take my smallness,
like a pill, on waking. Always I’ll be only one
more moving part, blurred in snow and stone.
I’ll never fall for the slick con of consequence.


Bright, or secret, or ghosted, towns fall into place
like the corner pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. All the sky
pieces look the same. I can’t fit the fragments
of clouds together.


This place is as I never left it: the neon sub shop
on the corner, the junior high. My house is an aquarium
filled with tulips. My mouth is a tulip filled with dust.

—Catherine Pierce, from New Ohio Review, in The Best American Poetry 2011


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