• Emily Barton Altman

Five poems // Emily Barton Altman

Of The Body

The common quandary

on display, that easy

trope

discarded in tombs of sentinel

ancestors, beckoning

to the other

side of the wildlife

tour, a tangled

relationship to urban

space

susceptible

to contagious

gods, slick

in their nuance.

I am bitten

off at the throat

I eat your autumn

weather and say it is

good

here is a sentence the body speaks:

bruised.

You are not in California

I have been out

of touch and you

an ache, I examine

all the places

I could have turned

and stitched you up,

my body in the jar

it created, how

I invents

itself next to you.

Essay

How often I forget everything

she does is done

in grief: the grocery list,

the laundry, her drive

to work—

how we coax

our bodies

into existence,

daily.

I want to know

extremes of my own

body, this

includes frailty,

includes vulnerability.

Is it enough

to say I offer

different kinds of waste,

present and absent,

to say I bury my doubts

opened and remade

in this instance.

The Fall

Nothing is

yet: impossible! Remove the removal,

how to: in flux, in fall,

where we dwelled. A pier

under sheets of ice, a boardwalk,

supposed,

buried in parts. The shore

frozen over,

let it be still, perhaps,

let it be a lake.

Water:

what is found if roads are taken

along ridges / all

the ways to the end

to sleep / to dream

impossible! Perhaps / perchance

in winter / a shadow

to borrow.

Composition

The day after you left, I buried

you, and set off to scatter

ashes,

full of air

and riverbed.

Here now, another you

come to take

your place, a subtle

shift, imperceptible.

In the evenings

two yous

align their threads

and take turns

weaving.

I intercede, still

rich and sweaty, covered

in dust.

It has been

a long climb, and the river

is swelling, even now.

What to make of this swelling,

I doesn’t know.

//

Emily Barton Altman is a poet and editor living in Chicago. Recent publications include a chapbook, Bathymetry (Present Tense Pamphlets, 2016), and poems in Parallax, wicked alice, and Foothill. She is a recipient of a Poets & Writers Amy Award and received her MFA from New York University. She co-hosts and produces the poetry podcast Make (No) Bones with her partner, Toby Altman.

309 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

ASSUAGE pretty apron to hold onto is still, and rare, with steam against the rudder, fallen in a haze of ice crystals, premier league champions, fog. Do you eat dust? I eat dust. I thought the world a