Anna Talhami


after Li-Young Lee

A body is three-fourths winter

and the rest a hot summer rain.

Forget what you know

about corporeal water

for just this moment.

A body’s one-part frozen lake in a rural town,

the area ominous

when you aren’t familiar, thrilling

to find, and to be, this almost-smooth, uneven

dance floor, temporary and precarious.

Water holds

memory of where

it has been. When this ice cracks,

the rift warns

I will be unburdened

of beliefs.


We have been fighting

all week and making love to come

up for air from drowning. Every

morning we promise

each other we will work

this out, but we haven’t touched

entirely what this is. Each word we throw

out threatens a proof that may disintegrate

the other’s thesis of Self. Say it

in ice: Once, we drew

our names in a heart

into the rime, recognizing

its potential for melting.

A body lives

in layers of ice and bone

and tropical storm. Tell me you’re here

on purpose, tell me you didn’t just press

your lips to my frost

and get stuck here. 

Stumbling over fissures in our brittle

identities, our hoarded traumas bubble

up through the lake’s melting

surface we are sure

will break us open and bury

us alive under water. Witness, this slab  

of frozen personas splitting, 

we believe will drown us, signals 

spring is blooming. If we can navigate

the map of this shattering,

we may yet