All winter we sat blind, I next to the girl
who loved her scabs, the blood shields
her head gave up, her face a sun of blank
amazement. She drew. This means love:
a circle with a line through it. More work:
a cross. More crosses. Ice sloughed
through fields. Ice river, the pages
of our notebooks. Outside: limbs and roads
and wires. Outside cracked with force
and turning. Our poems filled with salt.
He took me to his bed.
The writer never speaks. The writer speaks
in details, the sateen lining of my coat,
the star point of tongue kissing. The winter
speaks in the whip. Runoff nixed
with ash. I spilt water on my notebook.
Words went back to ink; paper back
to ruffle, pulp. You smell like dog, the girl
said. You will be left like the winter.
Little sputter in the car’s craw. Little
crevice in the pavement. Ice reminder.
He took me to his bed, saying: Ali,
Ali, tell no one. I told the girl, a sore
gathering, another skin to pick and worry.
-'School' by Alison Stine.
(Just try. Just try, just try, just try.
When you are weak, then you are strong.
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.)