from The Book of Questions: What does hunger feel like? by Jennifer K. Sweeney and L. I. Henley


I want to ask for your hand on my belly, the riverbed
of your palm pressed to the empty,
sun-warmed bowl. How hard the body fails
without us even knowing,
how the breakage is quiet as socked feet
until all the windows are broken.
I cannot have a baby, and
is there any courage in the telling?
How badly I wanted my body to lead the way,
lantern out of the cave, or to be like the moth,
come into my life self-swathed, content
in a darkness of my choosing.
A moth child, half-inched and slow
as wisdom. The shape of me useful, milk-filled,
easy. A tiny, opaline wave
supping feather and thread in my mother’s closet,
tunneling lightless passage to the feast.
I would have stayed
on that moon made of wool
if not for my body
reaching up to me, calling me down.


L. I. Henley is the author of Whole Night Through (What Books, forthcoming), Perugia Press Prizewinner Starshine Road, These Friends These Rooms, and two chapbooks. She lives in Joshua Tree, California, and teaches at Crafton Community College.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of Little Spells (New Issues Press, 2015), How to Live on Bread and Music, which received the James Laughlin Award, the Perugia Press Prize and a nomination for the Poets’ Prize, and Salt Memory. She lives in Redlands, California, and teaches at the University of Redlands.