The Iowa Review

MARGARET ROSS
Dissolution


What things are vapor? Not the air. The
        nightstand and the buckled
        mattress, not the sheet. I take

my time. Brass knob
        my wrist must turn to leave, its tendons
        torqued stems to the long

bouquet unfolding livid colors out there on the other
        side, the future, what you
        could have done, you could have

gone and seen when you have not left, have
        yet to leave. Someone tell me
        why "an unassuming aspect of

the gas that afterwards we came to
        realize was." This
        life, how to put it down

past the sprayed-on yellow
        edge like a lit streak under the door beyond
        which people carry on

dropped voices. Here
        in whose studio. I always wake before. Don't stir. Dim silver
        bough the length of me is kindred to me, sprawled across

cool air outside, my best
        friend. The window's fogged yes everything does have to be            seen
        through again again again
again I run my finger down to

make a clear strip, hypodermic. Some days
        plucked from extinction by a sharp detail. A bird
        in the hall I didn't try to help, what things are

for. The sheer
        green skirt I lost, I left
        a mark, faint whiff of sulfur so the aether caught, a man had

half an earlobe gone, his torso broad and blank as a door and            ticking
        on the other side I held my hand up to the door to test
        and the door was hot. I was just going

to say. Quiet. Is it Nobody there? Tell me
        how many flights we are
        above the world. Can't you

force me so then I could be forced
        to admit invulnerable live bounds, no threshold to
        cross. Not the voice. The floorboards and the ribbon wire. The

sky stale white of a corrective
        brace for the street's evacuated
        spine, it seems to me I've already gone

a long time. Did I ask to go

        I lay down in an olive grove because
        the grass was gold and nobody there and some

        with a blue rope tied about their girth
        width of a girl's thigh for what

        reason I don't know. My long hair
        was a net unraveled

If the thought evaporates. If the thought
        there isn't any room for when a day slides off
        and the hissing trees, touch always pulls me

back up to the skin, hand
        the fish know, vague through the scrim
        of the pond and mindless as they are. Slim light

daggers about. Put your head down. Do you
        recognize yourself? I was trying to get to
        the other side of love. I had no way to go. I was standing

on a platform riddled with black holes, stamped-flat ancient gum
        somebody's mouth had worked the pink from. P.A. told
        how far things were away. Put my face down, back against            slick milky

tiles sealing off the end. I was standing barefoot on dank air            between
        the railing and a drying sweater. I was standing several inches
        higher than myself pitched on blue neon plastic heels. Glass            necks

glittered down at me from marble shelves. I was standing
        still. I was. Is that what I believe? I was on something I long            lay fingering
        the tall coarse reedy shore. It felt like candor. His throat            clicks. Nobody

move. Firm limit to your will you'll never meet who were
        for them such slender interruption of the atmosphere
        I watched the sash I wanted to be

held down so there could be no
        brute space left to
        breathe, why didn't you

look, why didn't you look up and seem
        had you no pride
        weren't you free?

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The Iowa Review

Founded in 1970 and edited by faculty, students, and staff from the renowned writing and literature programs at the University of Iowa, The Iowa Review takes advantage of this rich environment for literary collaboration to create a worldwide conversation among those who read and write contemporary literature.
     They publish a wide range of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, translations, photography, and work in emerging forms by both established and emerging writers. Work from their pages has been consistently selected to appear in the anthologies Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.

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MARGARET ROSS

Margaret Ross is the author of A Timeshare. She is currently a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford.

"Dissolution" originally appeared in 43.2 (2013).

This page was first displayed
on January 31, 2018

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