By: Lois Carlisle

Sunk down in the couch with Jon
in the recliner next to me.

A red-head’s missing years

playing out before us
as though on a stage
but somehow more ethereal.
Hazier. Far more so than

standing in the bonfire smoke
behind the house, pulling shoes off
propping feet on the smooth heat
of the stone fence.

Those river-fed rocks, ground

up, form what my family calls

a killing floor.

Where livestock meet their ends

above a dust that was never alive

to begin with.

There, by the flames, I am not afraid
because I can feel the heat
in my bare toes
and I can explain where it
comes from: the fire.

But on the couch, I do not know
where the warmth comes from.
I can feel it in my fingers, and in my side,
but I share the couch with myself.

And if I could say then
what I know now to be true
about those lost killing years—

stuffed up in passenger seat,
parked beneath a bridge so the hail
could not bruise our surreality
—as soap bubbles

on murky dishwater, skin transparent
and alive. Back on the couch,
I should have said
life isn’t like the haze
and light of our Saturday night
television expedition into deep space.
A cool and soundless vacuum.



Bio: Lois is a student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She likes the BBC’s Sherlock and has never ever stolen a ficus off of the side of the road. Especially not twice. From the same house. When she grows up, Lois wants to be Molly Hooper.