Emily Dickinson, Cleaning Knives at the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary

By Sarah Crossland

I walk a mile most days. Calf-raises, dips, and lunges—no dry

crease on me by supper’s chore: the knives to bus, to wash, to dry.


For those with hollowed handles only a shock of water. The soap

a shaved lye, perfumed with petals from climber roses dried.


My father always held a walnut between his fingers before cracking it.

I thought, the meat inside as couloired as a brain, though dry.


Reciting Euclid’s Elements, the girls and I carry sheared aster

as if petting our own squirrels. Now who will keep the meadow dry?


They say I am one of those without hope. But how cardinal

the air that tarnishes silver flecked with Bordeaux dry.


Each vitriol was once sorted out by color. Imagine this basement

a lead chamber, Lussac here and his spectacles,  blotting his lab coat dry.


A man was found frozen in the woods nearby. In his big pocket

two fingers crossed with firn. Enough luck to keep a nesting crow dry.



Sarah Crossland is a Poetry MFA candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches creative writing and serves as the Managing Editor of Devil’s Lake. Her website is www.sarahcrossland.com.


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