The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Dawn Lonsinger’s “Whelm”


Incidental Love Poem

I step in the water sloughed off your body onto the bathroom floor.
I sleep in your stains, wake in your border, eat your leftovers, sweep
up your dead skin cells. Your sauces sit in my refrigerator like organs
in their transparent, breakable containers. When you are here I hear
you cough, stroke your skin as if to keep it taut. We swap colorless,
odorless gases and saliva. Our eyes bob in our magnetic faces. When
you are elsewhere, I curl like an old photograph trying to raise its dead.
I swim in three lakes simultaneously. I part my hair down the middle
of my head through the mirror where you untie your face, the sutures
undetectable. I think of your body as a plank and a screen, of your soul
as a cloud of grasshoppers. My tongue absorbs the salt in your skin,
swallows oceans, the giant gyratory seagulls scanning my face, the sun
holding my tender pink core together as you do. I finger through your
pages, listen to the symbols grind their teeth. Your things congregate in
small heaps. They take on significance, crystallize, and I am deep into
the damp cavern of idolatry. I put on your shirt, spread peanut butter
on toast. In my dreams I fondle your blue glacier, pull hummingbirds
from your chest, feel quenched. I admire how your mouth never looks
like a dam blasted with carp, how it evaporates in the skeletal light
of the hallway. Our gravity is horizontal, palpable as heavy whipping
cream. I decorate absence. I pull one of your hairs from my mouth.

This selection comes from Dawn Lonsinger’s book Whelm, available from Lost Horse Press. Purchase your copy here!

In addition to Whelm, Dawn Lonsinger is the author of two chapbooks: the linoleum crop (Jeanne Duval Editions; chosen by Thomas Lux as the winner of the 2007 Terminus Magazine Chapbook Contest), and The Nested Object (Dancing Girl Press). You can see the books and other things on her website: Her poems have recently appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Colorado Review, Subtropics, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Third Coast, Poetry East, and elsewhere.  Lyric essays are out in recent issues of Black Warrior Review and Western Humanities Review.  Dawn is the recipient of the Corson Bishop Prize, Smartish Pace’s Beullah Rose Prize, a Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship. More recently she won the Scowcroft Prize (chosen by Lidia Yuknavitch), an Academy of American Poets Prize (chosen by Heather McHugh), three Utah Arts Council Writing Awards, the Utah Writers’ Contest in prose (chosen by Susan Steinberg) and poetry (chosen by Wayne Koestenbaum), runner up for the Poetry Society of America’s Emily Dickinson Award (chosen by H.L. Hix), runner up for The Bat City Review Art & Writing Collaboration Prize (chosen by Tomaž Šalamun), and was awarded four Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes. She was also selected by Claudia Emerson for Best New Poets 2010. Dawn did her undergraduate studies at Bucknell University, majoring in English and photography.

Marika von Zellen has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Cornell College (no, not the one in Ithaca). She’s had poetry and fiction published in Open Field, Temporary Infinity, The Grin City Monthly, and the anthology Rock & Roll Saved My Soul. As an Editorial Assistant for Sundress, she’s copy-edited the book Picture Dictionary (2014); as a freelance editor she copy-edited the photography book Face It (2013). In the summer of 2012, she attended the Grin City Collective Artist Residency in Iowa. Besides writing, she enjoys theoretical physics, playing piano, ghost-hunting, climbing trees, and drinking good Czech beer. She’s also a scholar of Lewis Carroll.


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