Here It Comes
Something big approaches. We feel it.
Thunder gets in us, rattles around in
the chest like a growl disconnected
from the vocal cords, the mouth.
Before the train enters stage right,
red lights flash and a bar drops to prevent
a car from getting caught up in its velocity.
The ocean announces itself miles away,
salting the air. We hold it in, enormity
nebulized. I catch myself listening for it
sometimes, wanting a giant to walk above
me, as if crossing a bedroom upstairs. Boom,
boom, boom, I’m ready, here it comes.
What is standing across from me
on the other end of my seesaw
to prevent me from catapulting
into the sky. Or smashing down
through the floorboards, splinters
floating up like volcanic ash.
What is my counterweight, and
what body does it borrow when
it manifests itself to me. Does it
jump on and off, rattle my stance
by jiggling a foot. How steady is
the ground, right now. On a scale
of Richter-registered tremors to
Mount Sinai composure, where
is this patch of planet. Dear deity
of gravity, I feel there is something
between us. Thank you for sharing
this fulcrum so very graciously.
Your Name on a Grain of Rice
Your name on a grain of rice.
Your name, tiny, encapsulated.
Your name scribbled on a white
grain of rice, kept in an amulet.
Your name strung around your
own neck on a black satin cord.
Your name burned into matter.
Your name, a touchable thing.
Your name spoken to a stranger
whose hands grapple with it.
Your name, a way to remember
yourself walking on the beach.
Your name, of the rice itself.
Your name, organic, growing.
Your name rising from within
the rice to meet the outer world.
Your name, given to you, which
you give to or etch in others.
We are on the seventh floor of our buildings,
across the street from one another.
I see you every day, shoes off, heavily leaning
onto an elbow, hunched over the phone
protectively. Below your office, a health club,
a pool. Early in the day, women
in black suits slip in and out of the teal water,
their hair or caps glossy as sealskin.
To the left, the treadmills, four across. Upper
torsos, pumping arms, horses anxious
in their stalls. Is it nearness or privacy we crave,
neighbor? I watch you, and fill in your
silence: the copy machine spitting out sheets
behind you, the clink of her hand
on the metal ladder as she pulls her body from
the pool, the phone bleating
until you to touch it. Answer it so that a voice
might fill your ear. Answer.
Hannah Stephenson is a poet, editor, instructor, and singer-songwriter living in Columbus, Ohio. Hannah earned her M.A. in English from The Ohio State University in 2006, and her poems and songs have appeared in The Nervous Breakdown, qarrtsiluni, Whale Sound, FORTH, Spoonful, Birmingham Arts Journal and anthologies from Lazy Gramophone Press. She is a poetry blogger for the Huffington Post, and is the founder of Paging Columbus!, a literary arts monthly event series. You can visit her daily poetry site, The Storialist, where these and other poems appear paired with other images, or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.