Cuneiform Love Poem

Write to me in an ancient language.
Carve a stylus from bone to form
the wedge-shaped letters. Press symbols
into clay. You are my heart.

Take off your shoes and
write to me in an ancient language.
Walk the wedges of your toes
up my bare back, supple as clay.

In the mid-bones of the human foot
sit three cuneiforms. My skeleton
writes to me in an ancient language
I am still learning to read.

Articulate the shape of our history,
the ligaments attaching us, the bones
that move us together, apart.
Write to me in an ancient language.

An Archivist Opens One of

Albert Einstein’s
books, a heavy dictionary, finds
cornflowers pressed
deep between pages.
Even physicists get the blues.
February—when the
gears of spring
heave forward though the
illusion of winter—
jeers at her like a jay,
Kak, kak.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,”
Ms. Archivist says. “A book
no more
offers up the
past than a clock measures
queued-up minutes, the
relativity of passing hours, our
Time.” She flips pages.
Under the
Vs, finds more petals—
what might have been yellow
xanthisma—wonders at Einstein’s
zeal for wildflowers.  

Guaranteed Personality

When she gets in touch, and the sound of her voice
has me all lost in the high school cafeteria
where we stalked Tom B & his wavy pompadour.
She’s been in a wheelchair since ’94
and I’m all lost in Friday nights, red lipstick
swiped from our moms. We gawked at Tom
and his band in camo pants, covering The Clash.
Her hips shimmied low, arms pumping
as if she might bust through the glass doors
of our high school and race into the night
singing, I live by the river.

I think of her wheeling through the supermarket,
mid-40s like me, the Toms of our lives
gone. Our children and grocery lists.
And I’m losing it. There couldn’t have been
gel-covered spots on Tom but I swear
he stood in a pool of pink light.
The way she pressed against the stage
until the last song, hoping he would look.
We were fourteen and the silence when the band
packed their gear made us lonely, so we sang
as our parents drove us home
Yo te querda, oh ma corazón.

Laura Shovan is an author, educator, and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Her chapbook Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone won the Harriss Poetry Prize. Laura’s award-winning children’s novels include The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Takedown, and Sydney Taylor Notable A Place at the Table, written with Saadia Faruqi. She teaches for Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her latest book is Welcome to Monsterville, illustrated by the late poet Michael Rothenberg.