by Mark Bibbins, Editor
Mistaking Small for Faraway
Blew up a latex glove until it was a fat fist with nubs
or the idea of a blowfish or a papier-mâché turkey
wet newspaper plastered around the space you blew up
the last time you blew things up with your mouth.
Looked for the rare turtle through binoculars
and saw an eyelash, looked for the Death Star
through a microscope and saw a seed, like when
the wrong answer is so close to being right
it’s somehow more wrong. There is a fine line, indeed.
The first time I saw someone stealing it was
strawberries, the first time I stole it was flowers
through chain link, the ones I could reach.
In the cafeteria, they serve sheet cake on Bakelite.
We crowd a semi-circle of pastel chair–desk combos.
A banner over the door to the girls’ bathroom reads:
If You Could Go Back In Time…I wouldn’t.
We pass around class photos from years ago
before our voices had corners. My gutsy alto
made me a shoe-in for the role. The director
was wary, but praised my gumption. How timely
how present on set. Played “Hail the Conquering Hero”
on the piccolo while admiring the pink-tinted sky
how unseasonable, how nice. Forget the scraping
sound our veins made and the bleach burn
and the intricate paper snowflake we cut into
from too many sides until, unfolded
it fell apart, little copies of a lesser design.
Remember, this was not the first time.
Call me Jordan and cross me
Give me a brand-new vintage mouth
Message left in an amateur tongue
Two down and one to go, whiff
Of rubbing alcohol, swoon of ether
Grit of the crushed biting fly
Call me wifey to activate me
Peerlessly perilous and burning again
Like the old days, to whimper
And want wanting, shovel-shaped
Cleaved like a heart, a hooker
With a heart of gold putting
An oxygen mask over a child’s face
I bite my tongue underwater
Don’t do cold calls, don’t bear
A passing resemblance, flicker
By firelight, cur scratches in dust
Web strong enough to span
Canyon wind and the microscopic
Tunnels and tuneless instruments
Of ardor memorialized, I see
Tiny buttons by the green glow
Of the touch-tone, I will return
When the vibration in my jaw stops
Save a seat for me at a watchful
Distance, save a space for me
In the girl-shaped procession
Call the place diametric cityscape
Call my hairdresser Amber
And this ringer a braincase
I call the formlessness beloved
I pray to God for a sister
I say, make her just like me
Make her answer to my name.
Heather June Gibbons’ poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Third Coast, Juked, Southeast Review, Cincinnati Review, New Ohio Review, Drunken Boat, Pebble Lake Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing and literature at Purdue University.
For more poetry, visit The Poetry Section’s vast archive. You may contact the editor at email@example.com.