Sleeping by an Open Window in October
Hannah VanderHart

I sleep like a child
curled over, without thought.

I sleep like my father,  
wooded and caved  
under blankets.

Sleep’s face  
looks so  
like death  
we pause  
by the baby  
in wonder.

Sleep is the dark inner eye  
of the tulip.  
It’s in the cat’s mouth.  
I have it by the ear.

It wails but the wails  
are silent and feel  
like lambs wool.

I have gone to bed  
in anger  
and risen smiling.

Just think: the storm  
is only stilled and calmed  
by waking  
a sleepy Christ,

his hair tousled,  
curled like a fetus  
in the boat’s curve.

The summer we had lice
Hannah VanderHart

Out on the porch          the sun           shining on our denim skirts          on our hair        one sister
       kneeling            the other           cradling her head        in her lap        the dark hair slipping
between fingers           and comb’s teeth         the lice         running from the sunshine       winged
       spotted              a friend has pointed out to me        and large      much larger than you’d think
I have no memory of my mother             in this scene          I’m sure     she was stewing tomatoes
      sliding their bloody bodies                out of their wrinkled skins     busy, somehow         it was
just us       the sisters       our long heads of hair                at an average of a foot and a half      per
        sister        that’s eighteen inches each      although the youngest two           were maybe three
and five years old         only six or eight       inches of hair      all of it blonde          the lice
       running through it like summer gold          the shampoo we used      turned our hair to straw
we should have cut it off       our mother should have helped         why do I remember her not
       helping?       is this a truth?          she had so many other things to do        which is exactly
when abuse      happens         during normal         morning hours        in daylight       someone
        under someone else’s       care or charge         or power         sitting there       on those
cool cement steps        the sunlight baking down        warming our hair        this was before
        we could know        that others lived off         other people’s bodies:      discovering a rich
and healthy        landscape         moving in         lingering      making it       theirs

Author's note:  I think frequently about the child's body in my poetry. Not just the body belonging to a child, but of how "adult" or grown bodies also contain the younger body—the child's memories, histories, relationships. Taking a woman-centered workshop with the poet Robyn Schiff opened my poetry up to thinking even more about women's bodies, and our bodily inheritances from our families and other people. The fact that we each exist among and with others--that even Christ gets woken up by needy humans.

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Hannah lives and teaches in Durham, NC. She is currently at Duke University writing her dissertation on gender and collaboration poetics in the seventeenth century. She has poems recently published and forthcoming at Cotton Xenomorph, The McNeese Review, Unbroken Journal and Thrush. More at: