The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Larisa Svirsky



I was waiting for something
when I came here
for memories to wash over me
and make me something new
and ready for living
All I could think was
Here is the park
where a near-stranger kissed me
and I was beside myself
watching it happen
waiting to be happy
Here's the school I went to
with grooves in the stairs
from so many visitors
the office of my advisor
who would be my honorary mother
if it was an honor
Here's the expansive sense of dread
I know so well
at being alone in a crowd of people
who I should have some connection to
We have the same organs
live in the same place
Some of them tell me they love me
or something equivalent and
sometimes I love them too
Sometimes I forget my body
and leave it somewhere
while I become a hermit
which is about as lovely as it sounds
It doesn't come naturally to me
I have no shell
I think of my spine as an exoskeleton
I want to break it and
think of the grooves of my ribs
how they hold my lungs
how they tell me there's a way out
as long as I'm breathing
and sometimes I think the opposite
but we disagree about my location
and I hardly blame them
I can't make up my mind




LARISA SVIRSKY is a philosophy PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Voices, Smartish Pace, The Fem, Uppagus, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Ocean State Review. She was a finalist for the Erskine J. Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, Mission, recently won the Sheila Ortiz Taylor Chapbook Competition and will be published by the OIA Arts Press.



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