You are in the diode archives diode v8n2




what will remain of the body’s
            aftereffects, against
the cling of bones
            hollowed out, a grayish
moon, swayed sweet—

what of the body’s turnstiles
            twisted under, elemental
metals (steel and shale,
            loose shells) narrowing,
sloughing free—

what of the woman dropped
            into wheatgrass fields,
stripped of her knotted-
            root necklace: hollow
birthing of her

name and aftername (offered
            ten seconds ago—
erased)—what of the child running
            knock-kneed from
the patched-up

barn, crying this is all a political
            story, cut the news—
it’s the dread of trapped
            flames that frightens,
the mother’s

sleight of hand that saves: grain
            blanched in his
mouth—eloquent, bitter—sail
            (even at half-mast)
hardened, purled—


The Tiny Feat

Tell me the story about the big fountain.
The big fountain is a huge empty hole in the middle of the park, full of tall poles and sprinklers that look like they would be fun if they turned on, and lawn chairs scattered all around the edges everywhere. In the summertime, the fountain is going to turn on and splash everyone with water, and you can jump in it and pretend you’re a kangaroo.

Tell me the story about when I was a baby.
When you were a baby, I took you outside in the middle of winter in a bag on my belly, and wrapped you in scarves and layers to keep you warm. We walked to the lake to see the ducks, but there were no ducks there, since they’d all headed off to somewhere a whole lot warmer.

You started crying and crying and I didn’t have any idea what was wrong—maybe you needed a pacifier, maybe you were hot or cold, maybe you wanted a bottle of milk. You didn’t have any words back then. I called your dad and he didn’t know what was wrong either. I tried out a million things and finally I figured it out. I don’t remember what the problem was.

Tell me a story about when we were going to ride horses.
When we were going to ride horses, there were a whole line of ponies in the park, but we were late to meet your dad and grandma. You were going to ride the little pony, and I was going to ride the tall one, or you’d ride the little one and I’d pull you along. We’d ride and ride until the ponies got so tired they fell asleep. You’d close your eyes and fall asleep on the pony’s back.

Tell me a story about summer.
In summertime, we will go skiing on the water and run to the end of the street and turn around, and pop balloons every time.

Tell me a story about the airport.
At the airport, we are always just about to be late but then we aren’t. We are going to catch a flight to another city and the light is so bright we practically can’t see the planes. Other kids are running back and forth in the airport, and they look like they’d be fun to play with, but they’re so excited they run into you by the play cars and you fall down, or they climb over you and say they’re going to eat your face, and they don’t really mean it but you’re scared by the idea anyway, and you climb on the black plastic chairs and bury your head in a book and pretend it never happened at all.

Tell me a story about going home.
Going home is like starting out in winter in one place and going to sleep for a whole night and waking up and it’s summertime again, and all the clouds of the past three hundred years are swept away, and the opera house becomes a smelly nail parlor, and the place to walk your dogs becomes a firehouse, and in place of foreign streets filled with cobblestones and pigeons becomes streets that you know every step of, that you grew up on for the three years of your life, that have cobblestones on them too, and more broken ones, but it doesn’t matter, you never trip.

Tell me a story about leaving.
Leaving is a thing you’re always doing and can’t forget. Leaving is a kind of pact you make with yourself, when you tell yourself you’ll be fine wherever you are, whether it’s the beach with tiny white shells or the carousel with the funny green train or the window you like to climb up on and stare out of. Every part of the day has its darkness and its light, its sun and its shadow, and you lean into the darkness because you know it well, and it doesn’t scare you—you flick it away with the back of your hand.

Each part of leaving has its rituals. When you’re leaving one place, you have to put on your snowpants, and when you’re leaving another place, you have to take off your boots and stick them on the right feet again, and flip your coat over so you can jump into it from standing, rushing one arm in and then the next, and everyone who stands near you’s amazed at this tiny feat of engineering, or at least they pretend to be, and you stand tall and stretch out your shoulders and go wherever it is you need to go.  



Rebecca Givens Rolland won the 2011 Dana Award in Short Fiction, and her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Cincinnati Review, Gettysburg Review, Georgia Review, and in other journals. Her first book, The Wreck of Birds, won the 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire First Book Prize and was published by Bauhan Publishing.