Bite a poisoned handkerchief, and shut your eyes.
A girlhood dream is unprofitable. Still,

she would sell a castle for the price of oats,
if she could buy a certain story for the papers;

three times the smoky war has kissed her hand
and galloped off with somebody she loved.

She thirsts for news. But she has no castle,
and the newsmongers keep peddling reports

of rising columns, percentages, and lavish speech.
Nightly, when the television flares

with the skeletons of men and animals,
she finds herself wanting to tear meat

with her fingers, to pinch and vex the muscles
of an unfamiliar body, to crunch a wishbone in her jaw.

Sometimes in the hallway of the house
she’ll glimpse a shadow of the cat

who died years ago. He seems fatter,
like a star that bloats in death, before collapsing

on itself. The heft of distant suns
cannot be measured, there being no scale

large enough. But children know. They do.
And they feel, peering up on windy nights,

not a weight but a pull,
a different kind of gravity, an ache.


Feature Photo by Eddie Welker.

Sam Collier

Sam Collier is a playwright and poet from Washington, D.C. In 2013, her short play That Girl is in the Rearview Mirror won first prize in the Undressing Cinderella New Play Festival at Middlebury College. Her plays have also been developed by the Iowa New Play Festival, Theater Nyx, PTP/NYC, and NTI Theatermakers. Her poems have been published in Broad! and Pure Francis. She is also an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop.