Poetry from NER 36.4
We lived at the foot of a mountain.
As children we learned to count the toes.
Rough chucks of rock sticking
where they touched so we couldn’t forget
how many. Always someone calling out:
does it add up? Strong, sweet flavors
pushed out of palmate blossoms, a golden line
up the hillsides where later we followed
a sharp yelping we thought must be foxes
but we never glimpsed the coats,
devil of devils, ghost of ghosts. Our hands closing
on edges and legs lifting bodies, step by step,
over quartz and sandstone,
or coal, veins like sorrow emptying,
men’s bodies on stretchers, their faces true
smut, search and misfortune.
Lisa Lewis’s books include The Unbeliever (Brittingham Prize, 1994), Silent Treatment (National Poetry Series, 1998), Vivisect (New Issues Press, 2010), and Burned House with Swimming Pool (American Poetry Journal Prize, Dream Horse Press, 2011). A fifth volume, The Body Double, is forthcoming from Georgetown Review Press. Recent work appears in Carolina Quarterly, Guernica, Sugar House Review, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. She directs the creative writing program at Oklahoma State University and serves as poetry editor for the Cimarron Review.