Laura Madeline Wiseman 

 

If I Say, There must be something beyond all this,
Then you Say, There are only people

 

but the touching had already started. I thought it was the lady of death. We were in the mountains, or I was. There was that fancy health club I went to with all the props and light. All day I tried to shut out money worries to work, at night to sleep or dream. As I shook, something crawled into bed to hold me down. Would you’ve believed me if I told you? Then in that building we leased, I thought it was my aunt, her ghost or maybe your papa, anyone worthy of trust. You were already angry by then, and there were the credit cards. I was half-there, or I thought I was, or that’s what we pretended. Then in meditation, after we lost the business, invisible arms wrapped around my arms, an invisible body pressed against my own. That first night when we were homeless, and I asked you about the touching, you stiffened. Your jaw clenched. You avoided my eyes. Whatever that something was touched my shoulder just then. Why? With my hand on your shoulder, I

 

 

 


If to Consider Those Who Shovel Dirt,
Then Consider

 

It’s true my aunt planted bulbs. She found life by glove and spade, while your papa opened interment pits for the military. Sometimes in January, piled corncobs burned to unfreeze what was below. In an early winter when she couldn’t dig, my aunt always said, the ground is frozen, as if most people think of the earth as sometimes enterable, and then sometimes not. Why did our caretakers excavate what’s underneath? We planted pansies in decorative pots outside the sliding doors. When pets died, we buried them in the yard just like normal people. At some point when we were deep into our business, we stopped, put bicycles in our hands instead, and pushed. If they dig for what’s lost, we pedal hard to

 

 

 


If There’s no Here,
Then Nothing Changed

 

Say we should make camp in the Pillars of Hercules, then you fall asleep. All I do is think thoughts at you. Do you remember when I couldn’t remember? Idioms jumbled—big fish in a big pond, the world is your sandcastle, the coast is clean. Signs confused. Quarter horses for sale, became Quartered horses for sale. My ears replayed melodies long after the songs ended.
When you decided we had to go, I asked, Plato?
Then you rambled on about cave walls and shadows, learning to see. You’re more than a shadow, you said.
Maybe I’m the fire.
Okay.
Okay, I’m the fire?
We watched animated study-clips meant for undergrads in philosophy, though we’d both studied nutrition and sports exercise.
We need to start this game over, I said, but without



 

 

 

Laura Madeline Wiseman teaches writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the editor of two anthologies, Bared and Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Book List. She is the recipient of 2015 Honor Book Nebraska Book Award, Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy of American Poets Award. Her book Drink won the 2016 Independent Publisher Bronze Book Award for poetry. Her latest book is Velocipede (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist for Sports.