Cosmology / Vanessa Stauffer

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dancing girl press, 2013

 Vanessa Stauffer received a doctorate in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston and currently teaches in the creative writing program at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, Brilliant Corners, Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, among other journals.


The water whispered us closer
than we’d been, so we traded
sandals & the dirt path for bare

skin, a velvet swath of jewelweed
smithed in dew: tangles of stars
gathering the sunset, pearled skeins

between the limbs, a weave
of dusk & youth snaring our feet
until we quit the woods & gave

the salt of summer bodies
to the lake, the surface wind-lathed
vermilion, incised with the shapes

of pine & poplar. We fell between
the shadows & turned our mouths
to each other, bolder than

we thought we could be, shocked
& proud of ourselves, two children
who’d realized they could breathe

through one another. I remember
this because we grew up years
ago. I remember this because

I’ve been looking at A Girl Asleep.
She’s our age that summer, napping
behind a table draped with color:

crimson & russet, geometries
of indigo beneath a pitcher
lit like an eggshell, a bowl

of apples & plums before her.
I’m remembering how we’re taught
to think the future always bears

ripe fruit in its porcelain
embrace, how we have to forget
in order to taste it, how, today,

I’m tired of my own exhalations.
There’s a door half-open behind
her, empty of everything

but light. I can’t forget
the way we laughed. In twilight,
our shadows were giants.