The daughter fell into the raft of mallards,
an impatient tortoise rising from beneath.
Theirs was an island where we die for hours
stretched over the sun’s mean wrinkles, thick face
peeking from our nailbeds and callouses.
There are four women for each sycamore. Acorns
fill stomachs empty all summer, and we read indexes
looking for grandiosity spelled-out in soft notes.
Someone may bring a badger to your bay window,
Perhaps wiser than all your sisters, and those paws
will hold huckleberries and goblin shark teeth
collected while you slept through another storm.
When anyone comes to our door, forgives us,
we instantly let the child we carry on our backs
down onto the dirt floor to make circles with carrots
we whittled while surviving so many nights.
Kelli Allen’s latest book is Imagine Not Drowning (C&R Press, 2017). Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals in the US and internationally. She served as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge, is the Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review, and directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. She is a Professor of Humanities/Creative Writing at Lindenwood University. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press chapbook award. Her poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. http://www.crpress.org/shop/imagine-not-drowning/