Cynthia Atkins

Consider the Boundaries

Stay off the lawn//the signs make me want//
to go dumpster diving//pool hopping/wear a prom dress
to a rodeo// Don’t misunderstand// I said
yes//when I meant no/// second base, not third//
bra not panties//I was younger then//
now the ex-wife’s undies show up//
in the laundry basket// no you’re not dreaming//
kids go house to house// with duffle bags in tow//
//A magnet on the fridge says// Who said you could //chopper in //
on someone else’s husband//This is why //
there are doorbells// My mother-in-law//
used to call and hang up// just to see
if I was home// She’s gone now// I wish I’d picked up
the phone// more for her// She did birth the man //
that strokes my thighs//in a place where//no one else will trespass//
// I’m more than the sum /of every house// I’ve lived in//
/I never learned how to read//a map// Siri is my secret
voice—pal// on the long-spindled roads// I weave shadows//
Cross the line// at the umbra //of my own diminishment.



Cynthia Atkins (She, Her) is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event of Full Disclosure (CW Books), and Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020), and a collaborative chapbook from Harbor Editions, 2022. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Barzakh, BOMB, Cimarron Review,, Diode, Green Mountains Review, Indianapolis Review, Los Angeles Review, Rust + Moth, North American Review, Permafrost, SWWIM, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College. She is an Interviews Editor for American Micro Reviews and Interviews. She earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work. Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist Phillip Welch and their family. More work and info at