Ariana Nadia Nash


We came because we heard
before they left they scattered seeds.
We hoped for orchards,
pools in the dents their bodies made in the earth,
a change in the texture of air
where their breath might still hang golden.

We found instead that they had never left.
They had waited so long
for their garden to rupture the earth
they had sunk into the hillside,
their great bolderous bodies slumped into piles.
Their patient faces, turned still toward the east,
eroded slowly. Water streaming
over their bodies began to carve tattoos,
until they retreated into rock.

We lay our light flesh against their bulk
and felt their fires still smoldering.
We could read in the trembling against our skin
their epic histories — crawling out of the sea
and rushing across these flatlands,
of great hopes for these lands.

We listened to their whispers,
between earth and sky is our silence,
between earth and sky is our death.

We could only lie against them and offer
the gratitude of our palms,
the altar of our foreheads garlanded with sweat
in tribute that they remained,
holding earth and sky together.

And we could grasp hands and feel
for the first time the valleys and slopes
of our skin and our flesh in this garden,
in this graveyard of the gods.

9 to 5

9am. We live now where the hours suck the soles like mud
where the mind snaps back on itself, rubber-banding

Yes, we are being dramatic
Yes, an office is not a prison

10am. Woman Bending Over Ferns, can we take you even here?

Yes we can carry you, but will you come?

11pm. Is it enough to think poached eyes on ghost
at our reflection? When words are counted and charged

If we could wander Dublin for a day forever

12pm. If there is a river, if there are bridges, if trains
run across those bridges

1pm. Somewhere
it is snowing in a square and a quartet of cellos
is playing Greensleeves as the snow falls lightly
and history is recollection

Yes, these things are romantic
Yes, a quartet of cellos is a singular noun
Yes, nothing romantic in air conditioning

2pm. Woman Bending Over Ferns, chiseled from prayer,
tell us the arms open even here
Tell us there is a guitar playing somewhere the sounds of salt and blood

that they withstand the fluorescent light


4pm. We have choices we are sure we do
We do not know where we make them
We do not know if they are like children who we create
and who become their own

An office is astonishingly quiet

5pm. Let your body curving over the ferns be a window
Let the ferns be light and noise

Let tomorrow be transformed by today
Let today by tomorrow


Ariana Nadia Nash
is the winner of the 2011 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry for her collection Instructions for Preparing Your Skin (Anhinga Press, 2013). She is also the author of the chapbook Our Blood Is Singing (Damask Press, 2012). She is a recipient residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Her work has been published in Rock & Sling, Cider Press Review, Poet Lore, Cimarron Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Southeast Review, among other journals. She teaches creative writing, including in 2014–15 teaching poetry at the University of Chicago. More information and links to poems by Ariana can be found on her website at