The 2River View 24.3 (Spring 2020)

Samn Stockwell

But order nonetheless

I boarded the subway to the heat rush, the smell rush, my hair blown back—seats alight with crushed candy and popcorn, a magazine in half, and the sprawl of assorted legs, highly decorated, some, in patterned tights with leopards running up the thighs. And a bench hunched over the glow of a phone—surely everyone thinks they are umbilical cords to the life above where someone is recognized as the familiar animal of a pizza stand, the animal of a family.

I sit in the coffee shop and read the news of the citizens and notice the coats padding the back of the seats. Ignorance is biting at my calves and I don’t want the sky to crush my sleepy head. I think I can put my gloves and hat aside and yet not lose them – everyone goes on if they can, even if they lose the parts that were meaning.

What will people think of me if they do? How many pairs of socks, how many shirts have I buttoned on to me? Such birds and waterfalls as I needed to tunnel to another self—I once piled stones into a staircase in a clump of wet ground. I dragged and tamped them into a series of steps—and above my head it went and I coaxed some of the branches out of the way and axed others. This is true. With no greater faith than my own woods, I hewed a place for me.

On writing

You can write a note to a creature sleeping under your bed, you can write a note to ice cream,
to bracelets and anything jangling from you. You can straighten the line of your cardigan if you wear your cardigan to match the glints of your earrings. You can, more plainly, think of your ears as glints, subterranean glints and interior music of their own, and you can wash and wash the table you write on, until it’s the hue of almonds and that plain for you.

Samn Stockwell has published in Agni, New Yorker, and Ploughshares, among others. Her two books, Theater of Animals and Recital, won the National Poetry Series and the Editor’s Prize at Elixir, respectively. Recent poems are in Gargoyle & The Literary Review and are forthcoming in Plume and others.

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