A Guide to Cages by Alana Folsom


You don’t want to become bitter
            with responsibility, so you try
to make him the responsible one.
            You fear you want him
more for enduring your tests. If this is love,
            you tell yourself, even when you let go
he will never fully
            release you. You tell yourself to stop
being afraid so many times
            even you forget
what you’re afraid of. You consider other men
            more affectionate, less busy—
easier, you say to him, which you confuse,
            occasionally, with better.
When you finally ask him to leave
            you are asking him
to do what you don’t want
            in order to get what you do,
which is him. Neither of you knows why
            he stays. He stays and you can’t
unlatch the want
            to feel craved. You don’t confess this
fearing his collection of stone faces.
            You know the two of you are too roiled
to ever keep whole, that it was never whole
            to begin with. The fiction
you maintain is that you will each become
            whole one day. Again
and again, you hear yourself say
            he needs to work harder
to free your insecurities, knowing this
            is not for him to do.
You think maybe
            his is the imperfect, toothed soul that fits perfectly
with your own imperfect, toothed soul
            but know better, or tell yourself you do.




Alana Folsom earned an MFA in poetry from Oregon State University, where she founded and was the Editor-in-Chief of their literary magazine, 45th Parallel. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Believer, Missouri Review, Apogee, and others.