The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Elizabeth Vignali, is from The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons by Acre Books in 2020. 


               Victoria Crater

Witch hazel I boil

                                                                           below the silver rim,

                              my moonroof dark, beading sweat

like a horse’s flank, from myth.

                                             So what if Genghis Khan

               worshipped nothing

but the sky?

                                                            I revere my own dark matter,

not just spittles of gas or light.

At dawn I chart my mood

                                                                   across an analog screen,

sine wave hissing: a grass snake’s

S, neon green.

                                                                    The desert—embered, hormonal—

       takes its first inhale. The sun

rises mad, a cigarette’s end

                                                                           poised above the canyon.


But all sols are the same. The grunt all morning,

                                                            rover wheels, friction

crossing the potholes. Damn this world!

Its forever adolescence,

                                                                   face full of deep depressions, wounds.

Where terra once resigned itself—

laid its ugliness bare—

                                                                   waxy grass, like Easter baskets’,

now sprigs up through the crater.


In truth, I’m not much for fresh

                                                            beginnings. My skin feels fragile,

a blown green glass. I believe

a body’s odor is better

                                                            than chemical cures, weapons

designed to wipe out the face.

So I live in fear of the next

                                                  bombardment, more waves

passing through the ground:

shatter cones and broken bowls

                              and my stone door rolling away.


No female can avoid

                                                            the Easter morning mandates:

bathe twice in something man-made,

waterless. Blot the blemish

                                                                           with sterile hemp.

               Apply the mineral mask, mica

colonizing us with that chaos

                                                            usually reserved for stars.

Unfold the pastel dress:

                                                                           another cold year passed. (How

many hours, with radiation and wind,

before this lace

                                                                                          unravels back to its brides?)

                              The acolyte girls circle

around the escarpment,

                                                                                          our skins reflecting

                                    that uncertain light—

So beautiful! So alive! the crowd exclaims.

               We flare. They call it spring.

Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers (she/her/hers) is the author of Chord Box (University of Arkansas Press, 2013), finalist for both the Miller Williams Prize and the Lambda Literary Award; and The Tilt Torn Away From the Seasons (Acre Books, 2020). Her poems appear in The Missouri Review, Boston Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Bennington Review, FIELD, Guernica, Washington Square Review, Blackbird, The Journal, Crazyhorse, Hayden’s Ferry Review, AGNI Online, Crab Orchard Review, StorySouth, on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, and many others. Her creative nonfiction appears in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017, Best American Travel Writing 2017, The Missouri Review, The Journal, The Rumpus, LitHub, Prairie Schooner, and The Hong Kong Review.

Elizabeth Vignali is the author of the poetry collection House of the Silverfish (Unsolicited Press 2021) and three chapbooks, the most recent of which is Endangered [Animal] (Floating Bridge Press 2019). Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Poetry Northwest, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the Pacific Northwest on the land of the Noxwsʼáʔaq and Xwlemi peoples, where she works as an optician, produces the Bellingham Kitchen Session reading series, and serves as poetry editor of Sweet Tree Review.

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