Two Poems

 by Hannah Stephenson

Wolf

Sometimes, a wolf gets in.
At first, his intentions for you
are unclear. He noses through
the cabinets and eats, but
leaves your flesh unmangled.
You go to work, to the bank.
When you return home, he
is still there, draped across
the sofa. He looks up at you
as you drop your keys onto
the end table, as you turn
from him to twist the bolt.
He sleeps on your clothes
because they smell like you,
the pile of them on your
bedroom floor. You let him.
The next day, you find gray,
wiry hairs flecking the sleeve
of your black sweater. You see
them, cactus barbs, and remember
the wolf. You nod at one another
when you pass in the kitchen,
hello, wolf. When you talk to
your friends on the phone, you
consider mentioning him. Do
they have an unspoken wolf
in their home, too. The wolf
is the best thing about you,
his choosing you is. Why me,
you would ask him if you
knew he would answer.
After a month, you wake up
alone. No wolf. You leave
the door ajar, his favorite
shirt of yours on the porch.
Now that he is gone, you
can’t remember how you let
him in.

 

Reciprocity

I crush the empty eggshells in my hand
to hold them all.

So it is with cities that we go away from.
That which we leave

swipes slimy fingers over us, slipping out.
What we hang onto

gets compressed, layered. Remembering
destroys the place,

obliterates whatever does not glitter, makes
a new thing for us

to miss. There, the cobblestones long for
the weight of our feet,

and pine needles hold in their fragrance,
no one to appreciate it

properly. But cities are not sad, do not
take note when we move

in or out. So we invent a place, a city that finds
room in it for a memory

of us living within it. Holds us, its crumpled note.
A city of reciprocity.

About Hannah Stephenson

Hannah Stephenson is a poet, editor, and instructor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she also runs a monthly literary event series called Paging Columbus). Her writing has appeared in The AtlanticThe Huffington PostHobartContraryMAYDAY, and The Nervous Breakdown; her collection, In the Kettle, the Shriek, is now available from Gold Wake Press. You can visit her online at The Storialist (www.thestorialist.com).

Hannah Stephenson

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