The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lee Ann Roripaugh’s “Dandarians”



Yesterday’s air bristling Japanese beetles—all metallic pinch and ping.

Grasshoppers Jiffy Popping under a blue aluminum dome.

A stray dog day cicada, stranded on its back on the path, rattling its
dry gourd of a body with a mechanical wind-up toy’s stutter and

All rescinded after a single morning’s chilled rain. Leaf prints mold-
scored onto asphalt. An immolation of orange and yellow burnings
stilled to silhouetted ash and char.

           (The imprint of your body fading too quickly from my bed.)

Was it an erasure, or was it a swallowing? Or the shimmered turning
of a purse inside out to reveal the silky lining?

Leaves glisten. The dock is drizzle-slick. Sky an uncertain pearling
of abalone.

            (And yes, I have been turned utterly inside out.)

So what other choice is there, if not to simply give oneself up to the
rain—to glisten, shine, and pearl uncertainly into this very absence,
this same ache, this lambent and indefinite quiet?

This selection comes from Lee Ann Roripaugh’s book Dandarians, available from Milkweed Editions. Purchase your copy here!

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Editions in September 2014.  Her second volume, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press), was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004, and her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series.  The recipient of a 2003 Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, she was also named the 2004 winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the 2001 winner of the Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing awarded by the Western Literature Association, and the 1995 winner of the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.

Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and two of her essays have been shortlisted as essays of note for the Best American Essays anthology.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.  She is also a faculty mentor for the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. in Writing, and served as a 2012 Kundiman faculty mentor alongside Li-Young Lee and Srikanth Reddy.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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