An Excerpt from “Having No Great War, You Fight Your Own Closer to Home” by Devon Balwit

Wanting cannot make it so, but neither
can Not-Wanting, and so the slog,
sometimes slow, sometimes a-tumble.

You stare at this self, back-staring, eyes soft
or not, depending on the day’s weather.
Understandable how your assessment changes, a
trick of the light—once more gilding,
hair not quite so thin—or glaring, like a prison-klieg.

When you don’t peek, you can imagine
yourself, twenty years ago, stopping traffic:
sometimes slow, sometimes a-tumble.

You practice tolerance for your students, who
only know you as you are now,
utterly ravaged. Who can blame
them for flinching as you lean in? Still, it
hurts to be diminished, a wizened nothing.

The dog doesn’t judge, loves you the same
daily, knowing only your provision,
sometimes slow, sometimes a-tumble.

Your husband admires strangers: the
otherworldly haunches on a cyclist, the
upturned breasts of a woman waiting for the light,
the cling of a skirt in wind, the click of
heels, chestnut hair bobbing, incantatory.

You’ve stopped looking, or almost, fearful
of forgetting yourself and drawing notice,
sometimes slow, sometimes a-tumble.

Young men would exhaust you anyway,
orgasms still fine and multiple, but
unable to upstage the finer contractions accompanying
the perfect poem, which leave you
hot all day. You’re jealous of your time,

those luscious hours before or after work,
dreamy before your screen, images arising,
sometimes slow, sometimes a-tumble.



Read the rest of “Having No Great War, You Fight Your Own Closer to Home” in the ninth print issue of aptavailable now.




Devon Balwit’s most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, Fifth Wednesday (online), Grist, The Free State Review, and Rattle, among others.



(Front page image via)

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