Figure Swimming Alone

Why should I want
to press my lips to your shoulder
you whose gaze I’ve never met

         whose mouth, thin as a birch’s lenticel
         whose knuckles fall, soft ridge of hills

why should I want
to sliver the morning with you
sad-eyed lover of cities

         gin and oranges on a beach
         Sacré Coeur our flensed moon

why do I want
to offer you consolation
unspeaking presence receding, become

         swift current against foot, against thigh
         or: someone on the rocks, waving hard





Carolyn Oliver is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, forthcoming 2022), selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize. Her poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry. She lives in Massachusetts, where she is the editor of The Worcester Review.

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