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.
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