When I got it wrong at school—missed
a word, could not recite
the long division tables—I would lock
my knees beneath my little plywood desk
in back where all the tall ones sat,
and sneak my uniform sleeve up
and bite down on my forearm, make myself
keep quiet, doing that, not
crying; gnashing hard with my gapped teeth
until the dotted "O" sunk in
because I couldn’t hold my breath,
so had to clench my skin while no sobs flayed
my lungs: those lightless rooms
where loud girls kept themselves,
and stayed unsorry.

Copyright © 2005 Frannie Lindsay. From Where She Always Was. Used with permission of Utah State University Press.

            for Chris Martin

To you
through whom

these sudden days
blowse & hum

thirst & quench
a tide of tensing trees

days tick by
beats in a song

my body grows
fuller each day

I think my life
has always been

for this quiet

your forehead
& eyelashes

face pressed
to my breast

your skin a texture

my fingertips
wool on cotton

wool on glass
the fibers rise

& I can’t sleep
for being alive

Copyright © 2016 by Mary Austin Speaker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.