Or to live on the water
in saltbox cedar shake.
Rain, the windows weeping,
the ocean drinking itself

to a stagger, sipping ice
from splintered poles.

Grief swells like damp
doorjambs but the stove

and sink are too petite,
the stairs too miniature,
everything in place

and cleverly fastened,
which means our sadness
should arrive in sensible
measure, even if we exist

in the rumble of doom’s
double drumbeat, even if
our models for survival

scatter like facecards in a stiff
wind. Watch us set aside

money in hopes to someday
stop working. When April

warms early, see us
seed tomatoes in terra
cotta, leave off weeding

and coax our skins to echo
chamber—close a thousand
tiny distances until we multiply,

unchart. Love, we are not
brave. We are bodies. Saline,
among other suspensions.
Insipid season:

our intentions fallow.
Our heat bill halves.
Salmon slant rhyme

the mouths of rivers
they’ve known since birth.

Behind the spillway, the lake’s
been closed on account
of snails’ pathologic
flourish. Starboard,

the paper-thin bustle
of night moths, frilling
towards the still-suitable North.




Emily Van Kley’s collection, The Cold and the Rust, was awarded the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Her poetry has also been honored with the Iowa Review Award, the Florida Review Editor’s Award, and the Loriane Williams Prize for Poetry from The Georgia Review. You can find her recent work in Barrow Street, RADAR, Narrative Magazine, and Best American Poetry 2017, among others. Raised on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she now lives in Olympia with her partner, where she also teaches and performs aerial acrobatics.