by Hannah Stephenson

What is mine. What belongs to me.
Leaf-stem and leaf, are these property
of the tree, or is the tree the leaves’ story,
their memories. My son’s experiences
are whose. His and ours and mine.
We trawl a green field gone marshy
from rain, splotched with black and brown
pages snatched from the book of darkness.
Leaves! toddler boy squeals, Leaves!
And at his voice a quilt of birds lifts
from the field, and we see that the shadows
nestled in the grass were half-bird, half-leaf.
Toddler boy shrieks, Tweet tweet! Leaves!
Mooneyes swivel from field to sky,
an antenna taking in and broadcasting
this gleaming new idea: that one thing
reveals itself as another. That truths scatter
and sail. I know that what feels real to me
wears the anchors and bungee cords
of my love. What does it mean to be in love.
Let’s look, Beloved, at how the world changes
under the influence of a gossamer partnership
as if auditioning for our expanding affection.
Have I ever seen a green this green. Has air
ever presented its best self before. The playground’s
entrance wants to entrance us, its players. Reminds us,
via sign, Young Lungs at Play. Here. Everywhere.
To the bodies that toddle into what could be,
be better than I am. Be kite and string
and unshaking hands and birds and birdblood
and leaf and legs. Little futures, be a new story.

Hannah Stephenson is a poet and editor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she runs the literary event series Paging Columbus). She is the author of CadenceIn the Kettle, the Shriek, and Co-Editor of New Poetry from the Midwest. Visit her online at

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