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


Slow Saunter of Wither

A cow’s ears can turn in any direction, and the field
is full of those flickering radar, small curtains

of flesh. We are an acoustic location, a passing thing.
Our car gulps in the grass air, is pulled by an under-

current. Dependence like a taste, the dark drawbridge
of night folding form down into nestle, wind rattling

the hollow half-note of mailboxes. The chest
floor opens upon the earth, slow saunter of wither

and hook bone, verb between sun and graze, sun and
subsequently. No moo. No matter. Who or what was

the first to look toward the teat of another animal and feel
thirsty? Did they also feel suspended? Sleepy? Cosseted?

Guilt or indignity for the theft? I am, even now, startled
by their calmness, heart girth purring like a small fan.

Milk teetering in warm pockets, and us nearby–
continuous intravenous drip. Dream of clotted cream,

sinewy lullaby. Water to wine–that’s showmanship. Water
to milk–that’s love and peril. A marriage that should raise

a cathedral up around their pin bones, sacred the space
so to take is to need: dire roast. But instead we

forklift the living into the living, harvest what we can.
News reports recall meat is piling up in school districts.

Freezers. Hangs from our bodies. When the cows lie down
in unison, we better run for cover. I try, but my feet are full

of meat, heavy against the moving vehicle on the moving earth,
milky clouds amassing above us like a scavenging.

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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