The Iowa Review

Personal Life

I sit good in a chair. I sit good in the chair. Not anything
        to ferry out across the twelve feet flexed
        between my walls. The gods are floorboards
laid flat they don't flinch beneath the matter. I fit good in

this air. I am what space has done. It was very alone and fine
        so it made heft of me. When I was
        in place the doors were tall and I turned over my coat to be
suspended with my scarf stuffing its sleeve from a rack

six feet above ground, then slipped my number
        in my pocket far enough down for if I forgot. I count
        the times the feeder knocks the pane. When the waiting was
allotted I chose three rooms end to end, a shotgun

with a delicate sheen of grease and a couple
        side-tables whose moony surfaces
        the dust kept vague, the whole space
otherwise empty save for fungibility. A.M.

some threadbare slip of the visible
        outfitted my sense in provisional state, such garish
        lingerie the atmosphere affords and the Earth puts on
drawn by gauzy netting blade to blade to blade

to the concrete edge. Don't we all want to be
        less density. A draft, the solitary
        proceeds. Hard to tell
my own back from the one upholstered in blue

twill the landlord zipped a dustcover over
        for protection. I lean to it. The line wound back
        to information. Were you closer to the rim
of life on either side you paid less to go in. I listened to somebody

start in the wing you recognize, then advance
        through the centuries you'll see

        then returned to a second-story
view spread evenly, no gaps, no

slots below ill-fitting drawers
        like splintered envelopes I used
        to send my hand
when it was small.

I doll the silver pull to tell
        the Roman shades: now wait and see
        the sure unerring glide of me
through after wards (those sterile cells

appointed behind frosted glass
        from which the errant clicks emerge
        and moving colors on the verge
of men. Pale chronophobic gas

the sound of someone opening his mouth)
        Oh I was fine then. I was just
        thinking less. I get somewhere, esophagus
a bike chain working plush skin carpeting the neck.

The ongoing hum
        of mandatory small talk
        while I rifle for a sense
of how to pause. On bookshelves

sliced souls
        shave and file what the matter was.
        To humor gravity, I let my objects fall
though it's only tact, though a statue's muscles

bucking up against stone skin prove
        something fast inside of him is racing chiseled
        cloth, I mean my skirt carves out the contours of
the gesture I will turn to next and show air's not this

easy covenant we'd thought
        but Lucite into which the grooves were cut
        to fit our deeds, no
intuitive drapery no breathing veil, you sheer blinds: tell me

why up on the floor did I say I was free
        and I walked out easily, I pawned the acts I owned
        for a pendant spirit squandered unto smut,
under yellow loostrife, I was personally

someone else hoping it'd look habitual
        to sub in for the future
        after one.
No, not in time.

I bit down on the isobel. I take
        the content in like a museum. You do something.
        Then you do it again.
If I do the same thing
more times will it be more to me? Well,

no, not necessarily. It may be less.

        What it is to be alone
        I wouldn't know, when nobody's around
I'm not also. Can't see out of her

who only picks the dirty ochre
        cushion insulation from her seat and pills
        the bits into weak regimens
the draft takes, she doesn't mind,

has no mind to protest, and so
        to keep myself in situation I
        whisper that she might not hear
me call her by our name.


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

"Personal Life" originally appeared in The Iowa Review 43.2 (2013).

This page was first displayed
on February 07, 2018

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