by Shelby Poulin

Nymph Prayer

I powder periwinkle, lilac, prism, dew on the apples of my cheeks, I wring
a cloud and squeeze the acrylic baby blue
from nail bed to tip,

let it drip.

I suck a strawberry, jam and juice, spread for rouge, my hair a garden of lethargic
caterpillars. My spine is made of bark, bends to a waltz
of wind through air,

nymph prayer.

I shed breakable bone, swap sickness for spring, for the neon green of the just-
wet grass, a flushed face for the body
blossoming back

glued cracks.


To Vera, in Sepia

To Vera, in sepia—

victory rolls tucked in a black-and-white
bandana, khaki shirt and bottoms
for the boy beside you, cigar timelessly
poised between his teeth. I see your sturdy
legs, wide hips, skinny arms—this polaroid
suddenly like a pool reflecting,
like the mirror I cursed this morning. But
on you the skin is vintage glory,
pin-up splendor, phenomenal

Another shiny, frozen moment of you
in a two-piece suit, striped and high-
waisted with sprawling legs like roots
into water: creek queen with the brushed
out curls. Your long toes are mid-flex
and I guess you could say those feet
are of the fifties, but they have met
the tech age too—body is a time

So it was me, all this time, who spun
the record, you who swiped
silicon in the endless upward
scroll, lowering of needle, same
hand? yes, this view of the body—
fingers like family packed
in cartilage, hips like history,
vertebrae a surname in bone—
softens the brittle gaze, brings

Image by Anton Atanasov via Pexels