Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 15 • Fall 2005 • Poetry

How We Happen

Leigh Phillips

We are afraid of being touched, because we are afraid of being finally killed. We are afraid they are going to take the last thing left. We are afraid. We are afraid of what happens when we stop owning our own tremors or when we ask for stop, there will not be a stop. Afraid. This is a symbol for the fear. Call it averted gaze -- it is written in his flinch, in her I can't reach you on the other end of ecstasy love, on the lines we paint on thighs to fend off threat, the never being nude, only distracted by pain, the lurch through lives we live on the first layer, skimming the surface of skins and never reaching down, clasping hands of prayer in the bathwater warmth of chests flooding with relief during the you didn't hurt me exhale and the fear in flight as distant tumbleweeds, dancing a light trench across the square states of memory. Our bodies are not impassible, there are no mountains, only plains, so when you enter us, you enter entirety. But only if we don't catch you, only if we don't solder the edges out of our terrible lips. Only if we don't draw the blinds and board the windows when you, like a hurricane, stumble upon the lands you assume to reflect your own. If only. Our way of being god is supplying you with your demand -- the reflection of your shadow-hover over our inaccessible eyes. Sometimes, we touch you and whisper the hungry half-formed syllables of love yet to love, and when you touch us, tangible as vapor leaking, we are touched and we are never there. You can see us, but you can't see us. We were born, and then we started leaving. We were always leaving. I say we were never inch-by-inch-by no please don't-inch ever there in the first place. We never had a choice, this is a choice. This is an emergency. This is how we happened.

Leigh Phillips is working towards her PhD at Binghamton University, focusing her energies on contemporary feminisms, political discourses, and experimental poetics. Her poems have appeared in Hollins Album; Harpur Palate; Long Shot; and Ugly Poets, Beautiful Poems: An Anthology of Fusion. She is circulating her first poetry manuscript, Naked in the Heartbreak House. Leigh also has articles expected to appear in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Third Wave Feminism, published by Greenwood Press and edited by Leslie Heywood.

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