Back to Issue Twenty-Five.

The moment I saw A PELICAN DEVOUR

BY PAIGE LEWIS
2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry
Previously appeared in Sixth Finch


a seagull—wings swallowing wings—I learned
that a miracle is anything that God forgot
to forbid. So when you tell me that saints

are splintered into bone bits smaller than
the freckles on your wrist and that each speck
is sold to the rich, I know to marvel at this

and not the fact that these same saints are still
wholly intact and fresh-faced in their Plexiglas
tomb displays. We holy our own fragments

when we can—trepanation patients wear their
skull spirals as amulets, mothers frame the dried
foreskin of their firstborn, and Ive seen you

swirl my name on your tongue like a thirst pebble.
Still, I try to hold on to nothing for fear of being
crushed by what can be taken because sometimes

not even our mouths belong to us. Listen, in
the early 1920s, women were paid to paint radium
onto watch dials so that men wouldnt have to ask

the time in dark alleys. They were told it was safe,
told to lick their brushes into sharp points. These
women painted their nails, their faces, and judged

whose skin shined brightest. They coated their
teeth so their boyfriends could see their bites
with the lights turned down. The miracle here

is not that these women swallowed light. Its that,
when their skin dissolved and their jaws fell off,
the Radium Corporation claimed they all died

from syphilis. Its that youre telling me about
the dull slivers of dead saints, while these
women are glowing beneath our feet.

 

 

DIORAMA OF GHOSTS

BY PAIGE LEWIS
2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry


i spent years living with ghosts
strung between my teeth
                                                                Like corn silk?
like ghosts
                                                                How did they get there?
good hygiene or poor
taste
perhaps a blend
                                                                Why keep them?
i was so sad
i would have harbored
anything
                                                                Have you earned the right
                                                                to say sad?
i dont want to
talk about that
                                                                When did they leave?
all at once
they cannonballed
right into a punch bowl
and ruined my best
shirt
                                                                Do you know why they left?
when the dust is swept
the broom is stored
behind the door again
                                                                Do you miss them?
they made me the delicate
gulper i am today
                                                                But do you miss them?
listen    the mention
of silence is worse
than the silence itself

 

 

LAST NIGHT I DREAMEd i made myself

BY PAIGE LEWIS
2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry
Previously appeared in TriQuarterly


your paperweight. This seems
wrong. Seems like a sign that I need
to spend more time on my own, so I

call my friend and drive him to the store
full of overpriced healing stones. I want
the women shopping to know Im not

with my friend. I want them to know
how great Im doing with my adventures
in independence. Im ready to shout,

Look at my healthy new life! But my friend
thinks its a bad idea to frighten people
in a place with so many hard throwables.

Would they hurt me? These women
look as if theyd smell like pink magnolias
and violin rosin if I got close enough,

but I wont. Im too busy searching for
the stone that best represents me—its
not the blue one specked with God bits,

or the ear-shaped obsidian. Its
not anything polished—and I think
about how hard it is for me to believe

in the first Adam because if Adam
had the power to name everything,
everything would be named Adam.

Then I think, Thats a pretty smart thought.
I dont say it to my friend. I dont say it
to the magnolia women. Do they still

count, these hours Ive spent on my
own, do they still count if Im saving
all of my shiniest thoughts for you?

 

 

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Paige Lewis is the author of the chapbook Reasons to Wake You (Tupelo Press, 2018). Their poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, the Georgia Review, Best New Poets 2017, and elsewhere.

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