Because everything is in motion:
bone, ivory, shell. And blood

doesn’t hold on to anything
but itself. Because there are worlds

within worlds—geometries
of ant and whale, girl and boy.

And some infinities are larger
than other infinities. Because iron filings

can reveal invisible lines of force.
And my mother’s last words were:

help me. Because my father loved
Lincoln’s general—the one who drinks

and still wins the War—and the past
is a fine skin that does not protect.

And I did not know that loss could be
so ordinary: my mother reaching

into a cupboard for a glass, saying
take something, anything.

And I don’t know if memory
is a place or a map of the place.

Only that I did not come this time
to find her. And I never did ask

what war.


Originally published in Public Pool, 2016.

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LISA DORDAL holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Fine Arts, both from Vanderbilt University, and teaches in the English Department at Vanderbilt. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Robert Watson Poetry Prize, and the Betty Gabehart Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals including Best New Poets, Vinyl Poetry, Feminist Wire, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Ninth Letter, Connotation Press, CALYX, and The Greensboro Review. Her work has also appeared in various anthologies including New Poetry from the Midwest (New American Press) and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press). Her first full-length collection of poetry—Mosaic of the Dark—is available from Black Lawrence Press.

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