Grasp

Sara Ryan

I learn the word for willow tree.I learn the word for howl and keepit in my throat. the word for wolfcurls underneath my tongue. I havestudied pain this way—tucking itinto the folds of my body wheredarkness settles. I wonder aboutthe waking. the sunsplitmorning burns into orange peel—dappled heat. an extinctvolcano comes back to lifebut we aren’t told how we knowthe mountain has begun to stir. howstone yawns and spins hot intothe world again. I wish that I couldsay that I saved the mourning dove,but I can’t be sure. every bird diesa death—falls from the sky andsleeps. it is hard to banish this thought—​that everything wakes up and waitsfor living. for the word that namesthe blue color of a pale vein.who wouldn’t want to wake an ancientthing from the deepest sleep? whowouldn’t want to dig and find the still-wetblood of a long-dead fawn? a miracle,maybe, how the earth shudders beneathus. how we dance along the fractures.

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Sara Ryan is the author of the chapbooks Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned (Porkbelly Press) and Excellent Evidence of Human Activity (The Cupboard Pamphlet). She was the winner of the 2018 Grist Pro Forma Contest, and her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Pleiades, DIAGRAM, Booth, Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain and others. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Texas Tech University.

July 2019

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