Océano | Eleanor Paynter

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Eleanor Paynter is a writer and educator and is currently immersed in the Comparative Studies doctoral program at Ohio State, working in the areas of refugee studies, oral history, and narrative. Her poems have previously appeared in the chapbook Dismantling the Hive (Toadlily) and in publications such as Diagram, Nimrod, and Two Serious Ladies. Eleanor also serves as an editor with the Amsterdam-based literary & arts journal Versal. She tweets @ebpaynter.



Writing Out

My task is to find her again
and again and keep her

from peeling her wrists. I’m not sure
whether this dream is a response to the bombs

in Brussels or the fact that we are buying
a house. The dream is less

about bodies, more about not
letting someone fall. In the afternoon, I scold

the class for using the phrase “bad writing” for a book
I call poetry, by which I mean text raw enough

that to read is to touch, to hold whole versions of the world
on the tongue. This is what remains, for some of us, of prayer.

If the poem is an act, it is the choice not to retreat from the terror
but to bring the dream into the waking body.

All day I look for her in the folds of my mind.
I chase her into the trees behind the house.

To all the people accounting for bodies
oh Lord, might bodies account for the world.