Published on Academy of American Poets (


unveil themselves in dark.
They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright
as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen
like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make
in women who can’t fill them up.

A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.
They drink fruit dry.

And wheel, against feverish light flung hard
upon their faces,

in circles that nauseate.
Imagine one at breast or neck,

Patterning a name in driblets of iodine
that spatter your skin stars.

They flutter, shake like mystics.
They materialize. Revelatory

as a stranger’s underthings found tossed
upon the marital bed, you tremble

even at the thought. Asleep,
you tear your fingers

and search the sheets all night.


From The Invention of the Kaleidoscope by Paisley Rekdal, © 2007. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.


Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal is the author of six volumes of poetry, most recently Nightingale (Copper Canyon Press, 2019). An inaugural Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, Rekdal is the Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day in December 2019. She is the Poet Laureate of Utah and lives in Salt Lake City.

Date Published: 2007-01-01

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