The Limits of Things by Anna Tomlinson


All summer we found edges:
spine pushed against the rusted Mustang
in the shop smelling of spilled gasoline

& dust, faded pin-up girls
staring over the dark barrels
of shotguns—or just up the hill

where the road ended in clear-cut,
sun-blistered Caterpillar
shedding yellow paint on the dry grass.

Later, curve of highway at night
where he drove hand over hand to my island
& I leaned back against the window’s cool glass

to watch the constellations
slide their painted fingers
above the firs. In quiet parking-lot dark

he’d run his fingers along my sides,
breast to quick of hip. I’d pretend
to be my body, egg-shell chest

and feathered dove stomach,
dimple of old scars in my creased thighs.
I’d wriggle myself smaller in the lavender t-shirt

my mother’d picked out,
pretend to be a girl I’d seen walking to practice—
less slipped, more fixed,

not already becoming something else.
But each time, at night
or in sun so bright it blinded,

if you looked closely
it was everywhere: silt dust
gathering in the crook of my arm,

glittering the moles on my neck,
stitching its glinted aura
against the plain afternoon.


Anna Tomlinson grew up on Sauvie Island, Oregon. She is in her third year of the University of Virginia’s MFA program, where she teaches poetry, first year writing, and summer transition classes. Her work has recently appeared in The Adroit Journal.