A Surface of Needles by Cassie Donish


          passing the hospital—the world
was drenched, wet gold with sun.
Everywhere, hazards. Unprecedented

flooding. The air bristled with
noise. She was in love, but not with
anything, anyone, anymore;

my love has no object. A lie?
Perhaps all she’d wanted was desire’s
sheen—its look of depth—

not desire itself, which disintegrated
the closer she looked, but its one
talent, the ability

to discern…
                      try again:
in the hospital windows she saw
herself, an ever-new assemblage—

desire flows toward and away
from a center I experience
as thought; I am a machine;

thoughts were structures
through which she became aware
of correspondences. Strands of her

hair were copper, conductive;
the veins in his swollen hands: delicate
veins of palmate leaves, organic, animate—


Cassie Donish is the author of the nonfiction chapbook On the Mezzanine (Gold Line Press, 2018), selected for publication by Maggie Nelson. Her poems and prose have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Best New Poets, Colorado Review, jubilat, the Gettysburg Review, Sugar House Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. Co-editor-in-chief of The Spectacle, she earned her MFA at Washington University in St. Louis, where she received an Olin Fellowship and served as the Junior Fellow in Poetry.