AUSTEN LEAH ROSE <i>San Fernando Valley, 1999

I see you down there, under a cellophane of stars,

pink sting of sunset,
plate of grilled corn, city lights blinking like the eyes of cattle
in the distance,

mother shouting, sister running

away, the faces of your family growing dim in the approaching dark,
less human, more mask-like.

You look down at your hands, which appear to belong to you
but are useless, clumsy.

What do you call a secret you keep mostly from yourself?

Even at that time, you possessed
a knowledge
that the moment was moving, a feeling

that your chest was a train station which the night ran through.

Then it’s daylight, sunlight
and the world is a wound—rivers, trees, people with literal hearts,

The clouds pass in a series of unexplained silences.

Austen Leah Rose is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California. She received a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from Columbia University. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Iowa Review, AGNI, Narrative Magazine, Salmagundi Magazine, Zyzzyva, Indiana Review, The Sewanee Review, Gulf Coast, Carolina Quarterly, Antioch Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Los Angeles Review, Minnesota Review, and others.