Two Poems by Ryann Stevenson




I cast the leaf skimmer over the water.
I could have bought the Pooldevil, which does everything
the leaf skimmer does, but without me:
unobtrusive automated movement of the surface,
eating our hair and Band-Aids. But I like to do things myself.
I like to walk straight through the kitchen, slide open
the backdoor, step outside. At the pool’s edge I draw
small waves with the net, by way of the pole that’s fused to it,
by way of my hand’s grip. I hear on the news
that some think dead people are voting.
I think about the dead women specifically,
lining up at the polls in their flesh suits.
Last night was a first: I screamed out loud
when trying to scream in a dream. We were kissing
with paper bags over our heads, and a snake
slid silently beneath the bedroom door.
My husband shook me awake, told me to stop.
It wasn’t the snake that made me scream—
it was the feeling of nothing, the knowing
what I’d do next. The physical act
of the scream? It was a kind of accomplishment.
Like the opposite of knowing
the basement will never be finished.





I dry-razor my calves
before abandoning the house.
The shinbone’s perilous ridge.
I check both ways
before leaving my porch,
my chest heavy with the threat
of milk. I want the milk.
Want you to want it. Want you
to look away.
Performing the perfect
swipe at the turnstile
will send me
victoriously into the day.
I have failed at witnessing
Jupiter and Venus in the Western sky.
I'm tired of the balancing act,
keeping my core tight
as the train pulls away, locking up
then giving to the speed
and sudden stop.
Even as babies we sleep
with our arms out and away from us
bracing for what's rushing in.
A man gives a little girl a dollar
though she never asked for it.
Another man sleeps
like a nautilus on a bench.
We turn away from him,
and since he doesn't smell
we can try to believe
he isn't there. I stare
at a woman's swollen abdomen.
I place a hand on my own,
drive the tip of my fingernail
into my bellybutton
until I feel a pinch.
I can't remember
getting on the train
like I can't remember
falling asleep.
An invisible mobile hangs
over each of our heads.
Stars and clouds and our first terrors
twirl and twirl around.