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. 

Arcadia, Mars

               To console myself, I wander
wing to wing in the orangery,
               slip between twisted limbs,
olives’ silver and green. The air here
               whisks so convincingly I can’t believe
there’s a rock partition keeping me
               safe from the pinked-out sky.

In Gethsemane—that ancient other world—
               they say the Virgin Mary
is also buried in a silver grove.
               They say any rock is agony. They say her grief
was deeper than those roots
               (the oldest known on Earth).

Our own carbon dates us. If I could cut
               myself open, you’d see rings
lapping more rings: my mother
               crying for her mother in the same
way her mother wept for hers.
               You’d see the silvery orbit

where each life dissolved.
               But for now, I remain
human. I am a nesting doll for griefs.
               Even in utopia, there is suffering:
one sheep forced to walk
               the labyrinth, ensuring the grass
regenerates. And my young daughter,
               her legs thin as reeds,

chased and caught and pushed by
               the boys again. Her layers stripped away.
Not even the olive he wedged
               under her tongue
could hold her, clot those cries—
               these shepherds, they think of nothing but
what might wake this weak blue soil.

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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