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  • The Astronaut & The Poet, and: The Poet Sees a Partial Eclipse, The Astronaut Feels Hail
  • Lisa Fay Coutley (bio)

The Astronaut & The Poet

refuse to call what they have    a long-distance relationship.        From a backyard hammock

she doesn’t so much watch    the robin’s breast burn        its trail of rust through the sky

between them as dreams it    a lake, mid-tide, towing light        between each of their shores.

She’s given herself to twenty-two    hours of sleep a day, letting go        of gravity & holding her breath

underwater because he’s the only man    who’s looked straight at her face        without staying. He learned

early the fastest way to escape    a plane sinking into a sea, has seen        Earth unscroll its jigsaw topography,

could never forget their planet’s curve    & her, from such a height—dust        at the bottom of a well, an island

slipping into itself, every granule    of sand shoved from the top        of the hourglass. Her winter

skin is snow-covered Scandinavia.    Her rivulets are lakes are cloud        are passing beneath a curtain [End Page 163]

of fire he’s falling through her hair    doused her dress dancing her        atmosphere resisting, resisting. [End Page 164]

The Poet Sees a Partial Eclipse, The Astronaut Feels Hail

Molten horseshoe hung upside down    against nothing but dark & then        more dark. Space, you’ll say—

distance, time. This evening, beneath    some blooming tulip tree, not even        the moon & sun make certain

a path to one smelted ring in the sky.    Here, I know, holds a similar kind        of darkness as there, all the blood

drained from the day, the sun cutting her    self to crescents against flowers & leaves        on this poplar, this concrete. Ache

is why I came here, Love, to a roof’s edge,    witness to some celestial event, rare as        looking without fear or shield, willing

to singe the small net of blood I’ve been given.    Somehow, hail falls all around you, halving        its white from its white. Try to believe me

when I say breathing is more than exhalation,    that we’ll always take in more than we can        ever give back, yet somehow we keep

growing closer together, in lesser conditions,    spinning uncertain & dumb & out of time        until bone is skin is air is fire. [End Page 165]

Lisa Fay Coutley

Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize. Her poems appear most recently in Sou’wester, Seneca Review, Iron Horse, Third Coast, and Drunken Boat. She is a PhD candidate and poetry editor for Quarterly West at the University of Utah.