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About this Poem 

“When my first book Rough Honey came out, my mother called me with a single, fraught question: ‘All those things in your book—did they really happen to you?’ At the time, I simply said, no. This poem explores the question.”
Melissa Stein

Dear columbine, dear engine

Dear columbine, dear engine.
Mere water will force a flower
open. Then with a touch
the beautiful intact collapses
into color filament and powder.
It’s all my fault. All hands on deck
to help collect what’s spilled.
That could be me beneath
a bridge. Torn up beside the road,
a bloat of skin and fur.
Afloat in bathtub, clean,
blue-lipped, forgiven. Face-down
in the snow. Why do you
imagine these terrible things?

asks my mother, or her
ghost. Because the paper’s
crisp and white. Because
no slate’s unwritten.
Because the ant that scaled
this flower head
has nowhere else to go.

Copyright © 2014 by Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.

Melissa Stein

Melissa Stein

Melissa Stein is the author of Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon Press, 2018).

by this poet

poem

We were all in love
but didn’t know it.
We were all in love
continually. Bless
our little hearts,
smoking and drinking
and wrecking things.
Bless our shameless shame.
We were loud, invincible.
We were tough as rails.
We stole street signs
and knocked over bins

2
poem

Control was all
I wanted: a handle
on the day, the night
when it curved,
when it swayed,
when I could sense
the teeming stars
in light, in dark
the sun’s bare wire.
Some switch
to turn it off:
each shadow
pinned to each tree
like a radius
of some

poem
Catapult through hills
locking on air. So much of it
the lungs won’t take it in.

Then all’s a pinwheel, I’m
the pin. The girl
on her back

having a tantrum
on the drugstore floor
until her mother stands up and leaves.

The ladybug’s gunmetal
legs pedaling machinely
until they still

and fold. The body
is an
2