Issue Forty - Summer 2022

Books, Boots, and the Blank Page

By Julia McConnell

after Alicia Ostriker

We’ve been dumped unceremoniously
into library’s book drop
pages splayed, crumpled, exposed
left on airplanes in the pouch next
to the emergency safety instructions
stained by coffee, spaghetti, wine
illustrated in crayon
by an unattended kindergartener
or left out in the rain.
Worse yet, stranded
on a dusty shelf overlooked.
All we want is to be held
to have our pages turned
to hold your gaze.

Take us with you say the boots
lined up against the bedroom wall.
Take us through your red dirt path
spring puddles, yellowed grass,
dog shit, it doesn’t matter
we want to travel.
Let us give weight to your swagger
a heavy heel that makes each hip
rise and swing as we step,
step, step, against the earth.
Everyone will hear you coming.
With a walk like that how
will anyone know
you are afraid?

Come to me says the blank page.
I’m the lover you can’t believe
wants you.
In front of me you blush
look away, arms crossed.
You don’t feel pretty enough.
But here I am
laid out in front of you

Copyright McConnell 2022