All Else Falls to Shadow | Amy Lee Heinlen

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Amy Lee Heinlen is a Pittsburgh-based poet and academic librarian. Her poems can be read at, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Houses, Wicked Alice, Rogue Agent, Pretty Owl Poetry, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, and elsewhere. In 2016, Amy Lee received an Academy of American Poets University and College prize and Best Thesis in Poetry award from Chatham University where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing for poetry and publishing. She is a mad-proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops. You can find more about her current projects and poems at  




Late spring, out among pasty river-goers,
the cigarette-thin woman with a burnt orange body
stands on the narrow strip of rocky sand.

Her baby blue bikini, tied on in four places,
tugs across her sagging breasts, barely
lingers over her pelvis, her ass.

40 or 60. In this sun, maybe platinum,
maybe gray. Cellulose dimples twiggy thighs,
extra skins sags over her back ribs--

she’s glamorous. Exotic. Knowingly exposed
to sun and stares, this woman braves
her imperfect body. When do I learn

this kind of power? How not to loathe
what’s hidden and slack
under my loose-fitting sundress.

My baby splashes in the seam
between water and shore. My body
shows hers. How do I teach this love?