Heather Hamilton


It was as if the breath had stopped,
and the heart, poor engine, kept firing.
It was as if the meniscus had torn,
and, unable to turn,
we kept walking.

All our metal sockets failed us.
Sometimes, in a promised rain,
we suspected as much.

Our fillings registered signals:
We closed our mouths.
Our hair stood on end:
We bought magnificent hats.

We listed the organs
we could live without: appendix,
gall bladder, spleen. One kidney
was enough, then one lung.

We wrapped wolves in surgeons’
clothing, mailed them our incisors.
We offered up our best cuts, eager
as we were to watch them trim the fat.


You can’t step into the same river twice,
unless it’s a marsh and you’ve nothing
but time to kill. Unless fishing
in an attic carpeted with maps.

(Unless it’s a marsh and you’ve nothing
to keep from falling through the bottom.)
In an attic carpeted with maps,
the instruments mostly play themselves

to keep from falling through the bottom.
The trunks collect velvet and heat.
The instruments mostly play themselves,
but sometimes they do impressions.

The trunks collect velvet, and heat
sees to the candles and photographs.
Sometimes they do impressions
of your less memorable years,

measured out in candles and photographs
and times, like this one, spent fishing
for your less memorable years
in the same attic, the same river, twice.

Heather Hamilton is a graduate of the PhD creative writing program at the University of Cincinnati, where she received an Academy of American Poets prize, and teaches at Penn State Harrisburg. Her chapbook, Here is a Clearing, is forthcoming from the Poetry Society of America, and her poetry has appeared in Subtropics, Birmingham Poetry Review, RHINO, Willow Springs, Southern Poetry Review, Third Coast, Poetry Northwest, and Verse Daily, among other journals.