I was a mother in the snow, crumpled
under a black coat next to the ocean. That winter I lost
seven hundred hours of sleep. God declined
frost on the pines. I fell down the staircase,
turned two ages
I stopped being sick a long time ago.
But your illnesses are just beginning,
in the paper basket where you sleep
Your fever bores me—I dream a thin horse
got by the old gray waves
You are too small. You could drown
in an inch of storm-water the color of your eye
My heart beats much slower than yours. Everything but
the snow and my brother has disappeared.
I used his name for you so I could
sleep on his floor. He’s smaller than an hour a month.
When I die, I see him walking
clearly into the unfinished ocean, and even though I love you, I go with him.
THE MIDDLE HOUSE
Mornings we walk to the edge of the island and it starts to snow
The cells you left in my brain fall around like shaved ice,
a song my mother sang in pieces
I still haven’t decided if I will leave you
Winter doesn’t give up—it lengthens darkness,
your legs grow up against it
The ice glitters in my sleep, showering so hard I cannot wake
On the day we are supposed to leave the island,
I wait for a cry to come out of a hole in the ice
We run from the hospital each morning and it starts to snow
the same snow from an unusually painful winter a million years ago
JULIA ANNA MORRISON is a poet from Alpharetta, Georgia. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2014 her manuscript was a finalist for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and she was a Yaddo Residency Fellow. Julia lives in Iowa City where she teaches at the University of Iowa and co-edits Two Peach with Catherine Pond.
Read more by Julia Anna Morrison
Poem in Phantom
Two poems in The Journal, one here and another here