Ruth Madievsky



Watch the squirrel clean its face

until its hands are your hands,

until the chemical energy of sunlight

is gentle as a kiss

on your cheek, don’t stop until

the senators inside you

go home to their creamed corn and televisions,

their partners and dogs, until

the two-way mirrors   

and oyster knives you hang from your optic nerves

like laundry

are taken by the wind, let it

uncurl your eyelashes,

let it carry you

in its pocket like a mint. It’s all true—

the weird sex thing, the yellow pills, how I climbed

myself like a tree. Basically anything

can hold itself hostage.

The question isn’t Why? but So?

Still, there are ways

of touching without bulldozing,

ways of washing a body

without making the person inside it

feel like a plate.

You don’t have to sympathize

with the teeth of chainsaws

if you don’t want to.

Where you go

when you enter a wormhole

is not important.




This poem is the winner of the 8th annual Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize. The prize awards $1,000 and publication of the winning poem to a poet under 40 years of age in honor of the late Stanley Kunitz's dedication to mentoring poets.


Found In Volume 46, No. 05
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Ruth Madievsky
About the Author

Originally from Moldova, Ruth Madievsky is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist living in Los Angeles. Her debut poetry collection, Emergency Brake, was published by Tavern Books ​as their 2015 Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series selection.