Sierra Golden


Word for gold ankle straps, her flexing
calf tattoos, billowing pants tucked at the knee,
and the pinstripe suit of his body pulling
across the floor like gravity.

Word for her shoulders like bees,
like honey, like a trembling rabbit.
Word for her legs like butterflies, steam
engines, twin tornadoes licking the mud.

(Those legs, poised as a heron's pointed beak
as he hunts small fish to swallow and tuck
under his ribs, nailing his body to the earth,
lift with his same inevitable grace.)

Word for her torso, a vase, a vessel, a river
flooded with tongues, sensual muscles
they are, feeling their way in the dark,
savoring communion with sins unshriven.

Word for his chest writing love letters
to her toes, his shoulders to her thighs, pinky
to palm, patella, plain of her small back flat
under the crooked branch of his arm.

(Those letters like wars, her body entrenched,
envelopes slit open on barbed wire, pages
read aloud to the whole unit, the colonel
crying, the infantry hoot-hollering for more.)

Sierra Golden received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Winner of the program's 2012 Academy of American Poets Prize, Golden's work appears widely in or is forthcoming in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Permafrost, and Ploughshares. She has also been awarded residencies by Hedgebrook, the Island Institute, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Although she calls Washington State home, Golden has spent many summers in Alaska, working as a commercial fisherman. She now works in communications.

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