“Garment of Sand” and other poems

Kirstin Allio


Garment of Sand

Disconcerting when guests,
retreating to the guest
room, play their own
music on their own
phones, unnerving
when old people take showers.


Though my thoughts dump
into the pose, my symphony
stiffens to ward
off the plastic wheels of sleep

the latch catching

unlatching in duple time matching
my lack of overture to the neighbors
to fix their gate.
An old friend who’s also

old leaves a night
gown on the guest
bed, blind

as a bodice

as a spirit guide.


Of all the penitent holidays,
Easter is pent-up, prêt-a
Spring. The patron saint
Of the season is plastic

Bags caught in broad
Branches like bunched
Up doves. What is memory
But a microchip, an eye

Doctor the size of a child?
One year, I found lambs’
Tails instead of eggs my father
Had laid carefully in the stone wall.

Hit rate for change: without
Fail. Ducks glide in
Then run aground like step
Ping off a moving train.


Stages of child
Hood: Babies
Soft children
Hard children
Grown men


                                                               You can always tell a monster

Writes Dwight
Garner in the New
York Times

                  He wears scarves


Does this clever
Turn trivialize
Monstrous behavior
Or right-size
Lucian Freud?


May cause
Craquelure of mind

The only way out is in
Side the fist of the myth in

Which God

In her negative
Capability rests
Her case. To lay
Down the labyrinth, clear
The church floor for
The stampede.

Kirstin Allio’s books are the novels Buddhism for Western Children (University of Iowa, 2018) and Garner (Coffee House, 2005), and the short story collection Clothed, Female Figure (Dzanc, 2016). She has received fellowships from Brown University’s Howard Foundation and MacDowell. She lives in Providence, RI. www.kirstinallio.com

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