Illustration: animal tracks crossing frozen lake


Look: a woman alone with her dog
in a field of snow. Look how the shadows turn
to water. Look how the wind carries news

from across the lake. The dog is tasting
fish bones, gull breath, woodsmoke on the air.
The woman is wondering whether every minute

is simply the same minute over again.
The dog knows that is not the same rabbit
as yesterday. But this might be the same day.

The hour drifts down like snow, away
into the quiet places between rocks. Look:
the sun an empty dinner plate, that blank,

that cold. The pond gray glass. The sky
white sheet. How those brown stalks
hunch and mutter, how the pines remember

patience. How the woman breathes, thinks herself
perhaps not a woman. All the rooms she has taken
her body, all the ways the body has moved

beyond her, tunneled into skins for strangers
to map and name. All the selves she’s stepped
out of, the husks she’s left to crack and dry

on barn floors, in school gyms, at gas stations.
A self denied will not invite her back, not even
if it fit, not even if she asked.

The dog knows no regret, but gallops into icy air,
disregards his tenderness, lets the earth
steal heat from his fleeting touch.

Sam Collier is a co-host of the podcast Beckett’s Babies. Her poems have appeared in Iron Horse Literary Magazine, Mortar Magazine, The Puritan, and elsewhere. Her play Daisy Violet the Bitch Beast King was the 2019 Winner of the Modern Works Festival at Urbanite Theatre. She lives in Maine.

Lake illustration by C.B. Auder.

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