Rewrite

I’m reworking “The Nightsky Often Looks Like a Mound of Feathers” and retitled the poem (I may re-use this title in a future poem). Here’s the result:

A LETTER TO CALICO SKIN

1.

Early on, you appeared
like a curled robe

on the side of a highway, like
a young woman dying in the corner

of a room. For years, you appeared,
followed me to states I could not travel to

in real life. I remember the way
you seemed to make others ill,

as they disappeared
from my dreams

entirely.

2.

After years of silence, I found you
in a poem, in the form of a man,

with a name for the illness
that I could not name as a child: leprosy.

And again you returned—I was lost in the woods
and you gained ground, bending with

the shadows, offering me flowers
with poisonous thorns.

3.

Soon I realized you might follow
others: the way he described a woman

with calico hair, and I tried
to not believe him.

I collected flowers, like you in the woods.
It was when I began to search

for sunlight when I wondered
if I had ever told him about you.

Stared at the roses. In this moment,
you became an impenetrable mass

of searching.

*

The poem referred to in Section 2 is David Dodd Lee’s “The Calico Man,” from Orphan, Indiana (University of Akron Press, 2010).

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About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she works as the Departmental Secretary of English and World Language Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and remains closely affiliated with 42 Miles Press, New Issues Poetry and Prose, and Wolfson Press. She previously received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Editor of Poetry for Third Coast. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, Whale Road Review, The James Franco Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on her website and on The Rumpus. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and three cats. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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