from THE ALTAR STATE


Everybody at the crosswalk smiles at me

with what I want to be their love



and the wet leaves huddled in the gutters

I want to give me hope



It's nearly March with new names to bill us

new building with a neighbor smoking a cigarette



behind a window across the courtyard

in her underwear



After forgetting to put the holed cap back on the salt

I got sloppy in the kitchen



in the small space between the counter and the stove

with the one functioning radiator invisibly leaking


--------------------

On the train today I thought my way

to my mother's room

What was it she used to do

Iron sweaters, scroll sacred nonsense in a notebook

a good hand pulling at her mind

And despite my own beliefs

I fear that I have always preferred those

who live lives of full faith


--------------------

We pass a building covered with glass

a building covered with leaves

a building covered with the look of water

The train banging out its bright blind act

around the corporate pond a willow

a willow a willow

 

 

 

 

AFTER A BIRTHDAY IS SUNDAY


I try to throw off the city but it's everywhere

To be less alone I walk to the lake
to walk with the lake

Having known god once I know how to be
the smallest thing next to the largest

but even in the ice the ducks bow on
and I'm just so big for a girl

 

 

ALISA HEINZMAN lives in Chicago with Jake Gillespie. She's an editor for Octopus Books and works for a translation company.