Tag Archives: Word Riot

Poetry: What Happens Happens in the Body

You are not a windchime. You feel this
when it’s ten below and the window
falls out of the storm door and though
there is another door behind that one—

because this is the way with storm doors:
they protect—soon enough you have to
replace the strip of framing, you have to
admit you threw out when it fell out

in July as if it were never important.
It was. It was always coming for you,
this or that bit of significant plastic
dislodged by one predictable destructive

action. Cue sharp ice forming on a super-
efficient furnace exhaust: it’s exactly what
they kept saying about the sublime: how
it happens in the body and it hurts.

-Sarah Barber, Word Riot

Poetry: Whale

In every way they come to us, we weigh them in pieces.
At dinner by the shore my sister and I pretend

to pretend we are friends
not shamed by growing up. The whales

are swimming in the cove, and all year
this has been happening—they die and wash ashore

like secrets the kids jab with pointed sticks.
First a great balloon, swelling with each day’s heat,

a smell the wind doesn’t wash away—
weeks in, the skin frays as cooling wax breaks

from a slate. My sister and I are in a cage made of ribs
that we built for each other, we are

in childhood’s oiled tent. Sometimes in our minds
we balance on the whale, feel with our toes

the grooves, the loosing of cells, the melting
inside as the methane grows. The mass of it

even scientists can’t determine.
On the whale we are little again—

she snaps a toy we shared, and I press my palm
over her nose, seal off its edges

and count to five. For five seconds
on the television, biologists weigh bricks

of animal, calculate the weight
of blood lost in the death. Always

I have carried that moment, the power
of releasing my hand, of knowing I could choose my memory.

Eventually the whale becomes
what the mind is: a body threatening to burst.

-Kasey Erin Phifer-Byrne, Word Riot

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