Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

November 9, 2016


A friend posted
the other day:
"they changed
the definition of
'literally' to 'figuratively,'"
and so I joked around
all week, swapping
the words: "I figuratively
can't find my keys," I
told my husband as
I rushed around,
searching; "I
literally flooded
the house,"
I said, laughing,
turning on and
off the faucets.

But I can't find her
post now, and
this morning
when I was looking
through her feed,
there were all these
pictures of otters—
and I clicked on them,
and now all day
I've just been sitting
here watching these two
otters rolling over
each other's otter-bodies,
like that long paper you tape
end to end—the one where
ants, marching on the
surface, can't tell up from
down, get lost, come
undone on that
sprawling vast strip.

The otters move to stay
in place and I keep refreshing
to see if their faces will face
mine. Their bodies bend
together, like an "eight"
like "infinity" and I—literally—
haven't stopped watching
all day: oil-black, looping
the loop of their soft animal
bodies in this river:
crown to rump, rump
to crown, sliding
one over the other,
sensing no weight,
no edge, no empire
in these almost-winter
waters.

But now it is night
and I don't know where
the day has gone,
and I try to remember
what yesterday felt like:
to not feel edge,
to not feel the waters,
to not know that the joke
was never a joke
but was our language,
washing out these banks
washing out our stinging
eyes. I try to remember
where I thought I ended and
where I thought I began.
Where the waters were
when I could not tell
which side I was on,
which was
the right word,
which one the one
where the world
washes away


Sarah Passino

The Hopkins Review

Spring 2017


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