Iowa Writes

When You Ask About What Came Before

white adj. 1. Free from color; the hue of new snow or milk. As in, weary from absorption you've taken to wearing white when you pass through town, past other people's elementary schools and young bodies in damp garages, past neighbors who don't know your secrets except what sneaks through the walls. What's left to tell with words, after your past has flung itself around the world in filaments? Example: your Minnesota scarecrow has settled in a Subsaharan mud hut and will soon adopt a wild dog for protection. Example: your hat (the olive one, sort of military looking) has a mortgage in the Colorado mountains. Example: your Libra, your balance,buried her Minolta in the cemetery after a blizzard, dyed a mulberry streak in her hair, and then—the nerve—wrote to ask, "So where did we leave off?" There is no leaving off in white and this is why you wear it. What's left to tell? In a word: everything. In two words: mostly everything. But the nowness of this windstorm, this bear and honey twilight, keeps it shrouded and besides,you would rather ride bikes with friends than enumerate the losses. 2. Free from spot or blemish. 3. Consisting of a wide range of frequencies, as in, I'm ready to be almost entirely visible.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Born and raised in Iowa City, Ilse Bendorf earned her BA in English from the University of Iowa in 2009. She spent a summer in Dublin through UI's Irish Writing Program, and she's also been a farmhand in Oregon and an intern in Congress. Other poems appear in Blood Orange Review and the forthcoming issue of 5x5. She lives in Washington, DC, and blogs at

This page was first displayed
on July 02, 2010

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