Feature image by Laura Letinsky, Untitled I, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2011. Archival pigment print. © Laura Letinsky, Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

If afraid, cured leather & wood-smoke. If forgot,
sassafras & hominy. If remembered,
bright blue hook. If bereft, lamb sizzling.

If rupture, obsidian &
chickweed. If suture, sleep curled around

a pine tree. If surge, puddle of milk. If shadow,
puddle of gasoline. If gender, shadow hurtling
overhead. If gender, dream in a language

you don’t know. If gender, swim
parallel to shore. If morning, sunspots

& black pepper. If mourning, black
spot on a lung. If harvest, blood
sport & blood work.

If language, cracked
branches. If ghost, funeral suit worn
thin at the knees. If rainstorm, core

of candle. If closeness, death wish & warm
dram. If addict, human. If addict, suture

& nuzzle. If caught out, folly
and muzzle. If walk, decade of
tiny crosshatches. If ruby glass, pick out

the stitches with your teeth.
If itch, reorganize the sky.
If itch, dropped stitch & chipped

saucer. If blackout, cinnabar
& fallout shelter. If walk, keep walking.

Nina Puro

Nina Puro’s work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in H_ngm_n, Indiana Review, the PEN Poetry Series, Washington Square Review, and other places. She is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative and the author of a chapbook, Two Truths and a Lie (dancing girl press, 2015). She lives and works in Brooklyn.