Second Place: Sarah Lao


April & I fist the days as if
            the calendar’s pages were the ruffles 
on my sundress. I dress the nicks
            on my jaw with springs & hands. 
Undress & redress. Make it tick
            in time with the neighbor’s world 
clock. Let me tell you again about
            last Tuesday, when Mama had me 
cut her bangs straight across,
            the split ends forming all the dodged 
questions leftover on the floor.
            Look, the living room is so full 
of old takeout and fossils. How
            honest. In another life, I imagine 
the bones must discover themselves
            in a sheath of blubber & teach me 
how to backstroke. Feel the river’s
            slow pulse & the slick of fish 
coiling around me like twine.
            I confess: I want to touch my body 
in the dark. Hands empty & gullible.
            To play cartographer & mark the 
frontline of every frontier with
            red flags. Should I rewind. Should 
I stop the mailman. Should I pick
            up the landline. Then maybe this time 
I’ll see the lightning before
            it hits the prairie. Or the back- 
hand before its crack.
            Either way, this house will 
overturn as the cosmos spirals
            on its axis. The alarm 
clocks will trip & shatter
            & I will be left holding 
onto nothing but my dazed
            sundress. Here we are, 
the ground in splinters
            of kindling, soot tracking 
the grass. Watch: this sky
            blemished. This field. 
Our two bodies—
            everything burning 
like it was meant to.