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Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

You'll Feel Better if You Make a List

There's a pair of red high-heels beside
my bedroom door. A lamp. Dresser. Mirror.
A can of mixed nuts. A prayer book
by my pillow. My journal. A box
I haven't unpacked since moving
to Texas with every test I ever took.
A voice on speakerphone please don't
talk like that. It scares me. I feel a dramatic
wave outside my window. Maybe I won't
eat for a few days. Baby you had me cryin'
hard. Two curtains. A robe descending.

Francine Makes Honey for a Man Named Frederick

Francine buys mirrors of different shapes on days she wants to be a man. She wakes and her body is a foreigner on a bicycle in a dress by a river. I like these days, she writes, mornings when even my voice is honey. Francine hangs mirrors in back of a red barn by a field. That way, I can be a man and not know it. Francine believes in tearing through things. To find how to desire, she writes, I imagine a bicycle tire, a dress that 's not mine, honey and a day to be what's in my head. Francine buys mirrors, wakes again beside a man by the sea, holding her own hand.

Francine Believes Nightmares are One Way to Feel In-Her-Body

The body, she writes, wants me
to talk. I'd rather be in two places
at once. There are scavengers
in the garbage. They dig as I do the garden
until Frenzy opens her chest and lets
me in. A ghost made of daffodils.
I dreamed we fucked upside down,

let the world listen, let her in.
A spinning ball—nerve bundles,
the base of our spines—ignited, train
of daffodil-bodies. We are
two places: the living,
the dead. Open my chest. Hurry.
There are scavengers. Let me in.

One Day We Will Want to Be Here

We were born clutching this thing, a feather in the river

and now we wander looking for the other, a wing

under a rock, maybe, in someone's hair or belly.

In the middle of the country stands a man, alone

for thirteen years, keeping to himself a secret

well. The livestock know his mind. Each morning

it breaks over wheat like the sun with its eyes closed,

carrying wood from the river, bits of moss without

an anchor. It says, Can't stay here. In the middle,

everything spills out twisted heart, joy, at once. We are

born with him in his rib as fish, swimming upstream,

toward him, a mind. The simplest middle-county stone

knows, There-is-Nowhere-to-Go-For-Safety.

The Moment I Realized I Wanted it More

 than I want the absence of it.

It rained two days after. I passed out


from pain walking from the parking lot

to my front door. I noticed a spider, frantic—


how something as small as a drop can damage

her web. She works on rebuilding it as if


her life depends on it. It does.

➥ Bio