The invisible tattoo his fingers inked
around my wrist, how long it lingered,
the way I wish it held his scent.
The ache in my chest is a stone—no
jut, no angle, just weight. Weight,
curve and expansion.
The hours I wait are round, even if
my clock no longer is.
I have started writing this upside-down
and need to turn it around if you
are meant to read it.
His mouth isn’t round, but I think
of it so. My hip would round under
The way we circumnavigate—first around
each other, then away and back.
Buttons, his thumb working them.
Fists, the completion of the movement.
There’s a reason it’s called
Zeros, of course, if you write them
the way I do.
Singing, layered and wheeling, voices
that never manage to meet up,
the pull of the oar through water
and out to the air, gently, merrily.
Ice cream before it melts, the coins
that might purchase it.
The spiderweb that hung in front
of the kitchen window. The spider
in the center. I’d like to say they both
survived the storm, drops of rain
taking everything. It was already
too late for the unidentifiable
His ring spinning on the table,
its surface: all edges, no corners.
Birds at the sea, ballooning and
splitting above the shoaling
forage fish. The billow of the school.
The truth might be round, or curling
over itself like a whitecap or a roller.
Sometimes there is no choice but
to duck under and hope.
Not a child’s galaxy of stars, but
our actual stars—everything that
orbits us or is orbited, some orbits.
My back at the edge of the bed.
Even the shaking feels round.
Tires against the pavement or retracting
into the belly of a plane. The plane’s
The arc of earth that separates us.
Emptiness is round, I think. I am built
The lake, its edges, the well-fed
fish, the snail. The spaces in between
the sand, the surface of the pail, the lenses
of the sunglasses balanced on my head,
my head, which would press round
to his palm. It would.
After Claire Bateman
The hand that pushes the shovel,
the shoulder moving the arm.
Praise the lift and sweep, praise
the love of clearing the second car
and the sleeping man who doesn’t
know yet. Praise the passing
of salt, praise the stamp of boots,
the brush against the dust
that chalks my long wool coat.
I praise the lifting of my face
to a struggling sun, praise again
the stretch of back.
everyone I love could be asleep,
given over to whatever brings them
home. This morning, I am thinking
of the ones who do not choose
to think of me, the hand that will
not lift to my jaw or trace
the streak of sun across my cheek.
Praise my own fingers and the tuck
of hair behind my ear. Praise
the solitude and uneven footing.
Praise the stubborn heart,
the way I will its beating,
praise the almost inevitable breath.
Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, and Sou’wester. She is the author of two chapbooks, Dear Turquoise (dancing girl press) and Creature Feature (ELJ Publications), and serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.