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/lauren swift

as in an antique shop, look but do not touch

though we’ve long thawed into spring winter still keeps me within her, tangled in the tortuous architecture of a place I do not understand

it is a place I want to call benign, but that is very inexact

more accurate maybe are the images of jellyfish that are on my mind, beautiful and lonely, dangerous if stroked but if you keep your space you need not even worry

so I keep the small, sustaining things near: a kettle, a stone, a blanket for my fingers to fiddle with—

how does a body such as this fall into step with another

how can it be a tame beast trembling when shame pings everywhere inside how can it love when a new freeze comes before the drip of bloom has even dried

touring a city that is reflected in the waters

no, not the city— its reflection after the rain, maybe, or in a birdbath on the patio or what pools inside of you when you are grieving

the city upside down the city where foundations are surfaced where ceilings require a dive

how do you locate shame in this city or fury or love or your favorite café where you will relearn how to drink your coffee so that it spills up into you

feet before crown, language before silence ash before a flame a death and then a romance

when you look from your window here you can see everything rooted in the sky and stars in the soil

Lauren Swift‘s poems and nonfiction have appeared in Cimarron Review, North American Review, The 2River View, The Rumpus, Utterance Journal, and as the recipients of Academy of American Poets Prizes in 2016 and 2019. She holds an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. You can find her online at

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