Andrea Cohen


In the stationery store, he asks
for the sort of pencil that’s mostly

eraser. What do you call that?
he asks, and the clerk isn’t sure

whether he means what do you
call that sort of pencil or what

do you call the desire for it.
But she understands what’s

behind the question, and behind
her counter there’s a room where

quietly, they erase each other.




It holds
the leaving

inside it—as
I held you—

flesh and oh’s
in an ocean

of going.



Gift Economy

I give you a gift card for a store that doesn’t accept gift cards.

The store is in another galaxy.

I give you a paper airplane and a paper ticket for the plane.

I let you fly the plane.

I give you the manifest which says this is a cargo plane filled with

I tell you the horses don’t think of themselves as cargo.

I give you sugar cubes for the horses, and apples.

They’re gifts you can look at in the horses’ mouths.

I give you a flight plan and a lighter with which to ignite it.

You give me the flash fire that begs an encore.

I give you me going up in smoke.


Andrea Cohen's poems have appeared in The New YorkerThe Atlantic MonthlyPoetryThe Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Four Way Books will publish her fifth collection, Unfathoming, next year. Recent books include Furs Not Mine and Kentucky Derby. Cohen directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Writers House at Merrimack College.