A Poem by Corey Van Landingham

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Love: An Origin

did X split the neck of an egret bathe
in its blood and wish for something
that would change her life did X know
it would be love would she have wanted
something so pain-yoked deep-throated
something so hungry did X know right away
the diagnosis or was it a slow unfurling
fueled by the slipping away of light
into evenings to be unseen and thus
adored did she imagine something
different was it less about winning and
being won did she offer a man
the opaque flesh of a fish with her fingers
when he refused her is that when she first
split open did love begin with negation
was it the not-having that turned X into
a fiend did it happen like the first time
she saw a sunset and thought the sky
was bleeding until she had words to prove
it wasn’t wasn’t it bleeding did X
have the word for love before the man
did she carve it into her thigh and later
did she regret it when the men would
tell her what they would do to her when
they got her into their beds did she ever
wonder why when they flashed their
tongues it was always when and never if

Corey Van Landingham is a Wallace C. Stegner Poetry Fellow at Stanford University, and the author of Antidote (Ohio State University Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, The Best American Poetry 2014, Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.