Tess Liem

The Day Before the Longest Day of the Year

In a familiar place you remember twilight
is divided into three & wish someone
would teach you how to do something
civil with your hands. Last week you
dreamed you lived close to a river
& had a habit to cling to. It would
be helpful to tell someone you are certain
you like rapids better when you can’t
see them but you can hear
obstructions breaking
the water’s surface. Days are
always getting longer
or shorter & this evening feels
like a sailor’s knot, a fixed noose
at the end of a line. Make a plan
to go sailing, to look at your life
through a telescope. Tomorrow
you will stand in a body of water,
cup one hand around the other,
line up your thumbs & put your lips
to the space & tell a lie. Except
you’ve never been able to do a loon call
& you are half envious half sorry
when someone does it well enough
for a loon to show up, presumably,
looking for another loon.



This poem is published in Vallum: Contemporary Poetry 14:2 in PRINT and DIGITAL! This issue also features work by John Kinsella, David Eso, Mary Jo Bang, Elisa Gabbert and more! Plus a conversation with Pultizer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout and an excerpt from an upcoming chapbook by Bhanu Kapil. To order your copy, please visit our ONLINE STORE!



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