Books open to Modigliani, it is early,
you collect your scattered notes from the sink,
from the doorway, pages curled
underneath the table in spiral notebooks
with bent rings. Faded, ivory, ripped
covers stained with pools of tea.
Across the table are geometric folds of
wet indigo napkins you washed
the moment you woke, in a nightshirt with
the sleeves rolled, now drying across the
You place your swollen books around the
wet cloth, charcoal stains your fingertips,
a yellow pencil falls rolling off the table’s
edge and lands near a tin coffee can that
collects the dripping water.
Bending you feel as though your spine is
layers of broken glass.
Water drips into the tin cup reminding you of the
underground cistern in Turkey. You close your
eyes to moisture, to that red pulsating light, as the
city hummed above you. You can almost hear your
mother’s voice telling you to look at the Medusa.
Last night, your own hair felt like a thousand
You sit to paint one long thin line. A horizon. A
longing. The cat stretches scratching at the leg of
the table. You want to scratch too, but at something
larger than a table leg. You listen for him, upstairs,
in bed, and there is silence.
You hear the tussle of wind through
the open window. You step over
the shattered glass. Lavender pushes
into the room and the bruise swells;
purple spreads like watercolors.
Upstairs his heavy
shoulders shift in the
Hold. A paintbrush. A pen. One thin piece of
paper. India ink bleeds through the paper
staining the newspaper placed beneath it.
In one still moment the sun bleaches the
brick floor. You pass your hand under the
light, if only illumination were this simple.
He exhales loudly
but you can’t hear him.
A hen unfolds her voluminous wings and feathers
float in the dust. You stretch your arms
and yawn. A dog barks in the distance.
The pen digs into the page.
What is the shape of your geography?
Touch, you carefully script your y,
your hand traces the round of your hip,
thumb rounding the curve of your lip,
eyes flicker closed.
In the field-
you collect yellow: bundles of hay
in fistfuls, soiled boots, and scratched hands.
In the bedroom, he rolls over
pulling up the sheets and quilt
with a sigh.
The sun: a burning aureole.
You stare and count to five.
When you look away the burnt dark smudge
replaces France with an ink splotch.
Wind rushes against you like a second body.
You want to stain your memory with this wind,
with this outline of your shape, wind locating
the curve of your neck, your inner ear, the slope
of your elbow.
But suddenly the air is still and already you’ve
forgotten your own cartography.
You look into the distance beyond the fields.
There is a marshland, a fray, where the thistles knot
and the milkweed splits into hundreds of silken threads.
You want to go there but
In the kitchen he steps over
You inhale the peppery scent of lavender.
He opens and closes cabinets
searching for a clean glass.
You hold your thumb up to
cover and uncover the sun.
“Anadell? Anadell?” He calls and
your name bends down the hall,
slips through a window, and
disappears into the wind.
You squint and the landscape blurs.
There is a lake in the distance.
You trace the horizon.
You conceptualize escape: the moment
when shapes lose their boundaries.
A bottle of milk stands in the front
door. He sees your blue dress
caught in the wind.
The creamy milk pours slowly into
the glass. He reads your notebook.
His square jaw chewing an empty
mouthful of air.
He passes through the doorframe.
The red laces of his boots catch
pieces of hay and they get twisted
into the metal eyelets.
You fidget with the dry hay.
You cry out, startled
by the notebook tossed
on your stomach.
Consumption. India ink
in your hand. Paintbrush tapping
your boot. His long shadow cutting
the sun from your face, you roll
over, touch the sun again, and sit up,
stomach twisting from uncertainty.
He crouches and places his
calloused hands on your
You pull back and recline
like a hurt child.
He kneels to you and wraps his
arms around you. “You smell like
the earth,” he whispers placing his
chest so you may rest your head.
He cradles you.
You let him. You let him hold you.
He rocks you like a child, and your
body, except your eyes, lose resistance.
I wonder if happiness is violent.
I push my bicycle past the stone wall.
You open your notebook.
I pause to watch again.
You draw blue rings
beneath the question.
“What are you painting?”
“The tops of lavender.”
He smiles and lies down.
You rub your hand over the bruise,
turn away from him, and write,
The shape of my geography is foreign.
He is lying in the field
In the kitchen-
you sweep the glass.
I push my bicycle closer.
Rupture in the lines of your face.
The glass is a remnant of the untenable,
impossible to sweep.
The bruise pulsates.
The window is open. The door is open.
He is lying in the sun,
M.A.A. has an MFA Graduate degree from the New School in Creative writing. She received her BA at Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. She is most inspired by this quote, “This is what makes writing wild. One returns to a savage state from before life itself. And one can always recognize it: it's the savageness of forests, as ancient as time. It is the fear of everything, distinct and inseparable from life itself. One becomes relentless. One cannot write without bodily strength. One must be stronger than oneself to approach writing; one must be stronger than what one is writing. It's an odd thing- not only writing, the written word, but also the howls of animals in the night, of everyone, of you and me, of dogs." - Marguerite Duras, Writing. M.A.A. wishes to return to this savage state.