About the Feature

Photo by geir tønnessen

This evening the sky
above the horizon
was a purple band
but thin and unconvincing,
like a bad belief
and the ivy climbing the stone buildings
was disconsolate
and wouldn’t look at me.

Disbelief can be astonishment
or godlessness,
and sometimes I feel good and sometimes
there’s only a small itch
where love should be.

On the sidewalk
in front of me
a woman held herself
slightly forward and in
as if she could make a small house
of herself,
as if she was astonished
by her own feet.

Around us
the air lost light
like a drained sink
loses water
and trees were
briefly vivid
so I knew
they weren’t dying.

Dying looks
like something else—

like a rose garden
cut down to its trellises;
like a motor idling
in reverse before it’s cut;
like a wheel lifted
and set down by a mess
of fur near the shoulder lane;
like my friend
who made a small house
of himself like a heretic;
like a house in the night
with all its lights
blown out.

About the Author

Genevieve Payne holds an MFA in poetry from Syracuse University. She was the 2019 recipient of the Leonard Brown Prize in poetry.