NICOLE CALLIHAN


Nicole Callihan's poems appear in PEN-America, Copper Nickel, Tin House, and
American Poetry Review. Her novella, The Couples, was published by Mason Jar
Press in summer 2019. Elsewhere, her latest poetry collection, a collaboration with
Zoë Ryder White, won the 2019 Sixth Finch Chapbook Prize. Find out more at
www.nicolecallihan.com. The poem below is a section of 'Yesteryear', a 143-page
poem written to mark the first one hundred days of isolation.






from Yesteryear

(6/15) Of
whatnot, and in
my wish
not to be
prosaic—Mother,
I worry

pillbugs, powder
blue shoes,
a coin purse,
scissors
in the pocket
of a housedress,
the fairness,
what's fair,
and whatnot,
the fairest
of them all,
and whatnot,
sand mistaken
for snow,
black dog
mistaken,
what mistook,
come what may.
May become
June become
February again.
Become better.
(6/16) The rabbits
'round the bend
are on a bender.
I am plain,
and take my
coffee plain,
and what words
I string
are plain:
egg, tiger,
beginner.
The suspended
thing hangs
and spins.
A century
rendered.
The jewel
in jubilee.
I open
all the windows.
Time begins
to organize
itself differently.
Chronology fails,
and so
the alphabet
reigns:
a dozen:
eight eleven
five four
nine one
seven six
ten three
twelve two.
And this
is only
the beginning.
Infinity falls
somewhere
between
four and nine.
Imagine.
Possibilities
of order.
A fused spine.
A salt cellar
filled with
with paper birds.
(6/17) Or,
le menage,
or, sweep
the stairs,
or, be
your embarrassing
self, white,
a little tipsy,
doughy,
w/ dough,
& of shitty ilk,
or silk,
remote,
a lampshade
on mother's
head, a lamp
in the shape
of a woman's
leg. Or.
(6/18) Or,
the roses,
petal upon
petal upon
pink, pink
petal. I am
strange
to myself.
In water.
A milky
mirror.
Scrim.
Someone
I used
to know
but can't
quite put
my finger
on how.
Highschool,
maybe.
The neighborhood?
The light
diffused.
Remind me,
I might say,
but the words
won't come.
(6/19) I'd
rather birds,
but kitchen
sponge, soured,
scoured pans,
hands, spotted,
but open.
Tenderness
witnessed,
cluttered mess
of a self,
the unseen
finally seen,
the sea. Tell
me, how else
might the days
have opened,
closed? A fist
of laurel.
The filth.
Night spools
and unspools.
Homeschool.
The unspoiled.
The spoilt.
I am sorry
for having.
I am sorry
for having
been, for
having been
that way,
having been
in the way.
The beans
soften
in their pot.
I don't want
to harden,
don't want
these days
to have
their way
with me.



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