How To Love The World, Anyway

Except in light rain a body
becomes a ringed seal, pinniped,
fore-flippers balanced against shore ice,
exhaling to empty half-lungs before a dive.

Be half-quiet, half-drunk rain drizzling
on a body that has decided to love
at least half-way.

Return to your simple tile floor—real—
won’t lift or levitate a body closer to a shooting star.
But even a floor is perennial as dust. Move on. Inhale
yellow pillows Mother hand-
stitched with one good eye, a grassy green
throw from Father’s last bed.

Hear a hunched husband stack white dishes.
Numbed fingers barely bending. Bending anyway.

Return to a daughter daring to dive into her own eco-
sphere. Too close. Too close
to a sea of spontaneous shootings, bodies
of children frozen on frozen floors. Nothing will wake them.
On ice’s edge, be her wool base layer, warmest socks.

Keep being half-in-love with this city, cozy street, grab
dark coffee, and know, maybe, more than enough.
No flippers. No imagination necessary.

Except an opened door becomes a wing, yellow,
and a disappearing woman with white hair plays keyboard, then sings.





Amy Small-McKinney’s poems have been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, Indianapolis Review, Baltimore Review, The Plague Papers (Ed. Robbi Nester) and 101 Jewish Poems for the Third Millennium (Eds. Matthew E. Silverman & Nancy Naomi Carlson). Her poem “Birthplace” received Special Merits recognition from Comstock Review (2019 Muriel Craft Bailey Contest). Unpracticed Bodies Come Apart was a 2019 finalist with Trio House Press and Barrow Street Press. Her second full-length collection, Walking Toward Cranes, won the 2016 Kithara Book Prize (Glass Lyre Press). Her poems have been translated into Romanian and Korean.

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