Arianne Zwartjes


Losing Teeth

there are kittens & kittens spilling out of the shed.
I try to imagine them somewhere on a farm, Nebraska maybe,
the husband or perhaps the wife gathering them up
in a cloth sack, weighted with stones, finding nearby water.

the body closes in on itself, shellfishes, knifes.
an overexposed photo, white flesh expanse:

if it is true that love resides in the lungs. breath,
not blood, the vessel.

a body knifes in on itself, shellfishes closed.
each tiny mouthful an undoing. I have not
found the thing (milk, the keys, an old song) because the thing
is in that silence, the silence I am circling. in the middle.

(can we say middle if the circle is oblong) (or say circle at all)

what I am after is gentleness. a lightness
& kindness, especially in the hands. the ability

to attract hummingbirds, a certain deftness or magnitude.
for example, there is always a window.



Arianne Zwartjes is a poet who has suffered a deprivation of front porches in her lifetime. She currently lives in Tucson, where she has a front yard full of saguaro cacti, and she grew up in Maine, in a house with a small front deck, but no porch. As a result, she has developed a strong case of envy for the front porches of the southeast, with their lovely wooden railings and rocking chairs. Zwartjes's work has been published in Blue Fifth Review, Fireweed, and Catch Our Breath: Writing From the Heart of AIDS.

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