to look at. to stitch and pull into

all the beautiful shapes he can imagine.

he tells me I am azure. I am organized

and glowing. taking up so much space

with my skin and limbs. he must be

an enthusiast of the female body. he must

know the tightness of metal on my back.


he breathes near me and says what a struggle

your body must be and his words are liquid steel.

slippery as beetles. the bluffs on the north edge

of the town are black and jagged. the walleye

swarm in the deep clear water. this is the biggest

lake. the largest sea of ice. it is an excellent

customer of space. of taking ships and people

and trees and roads and swallowing them whole.


I want to tell the man than no one has touched me for three years.

maybe this is a lie. maybe this is the struggle he speaks of. maybe

he looks at my neck like lake superior looks at boats made of wood

and men. I know I am obvious. I know I am not small or easy to throw

from a dock.


to look at.


the shapes.

        azure and organized.

my skin—

an enthusiast.


a beetle,                                        struggling.

             liquid and


         jagged. a

swarm of          space

and water.


         swallowed whole.

         no one.

a lie.                                               a struggle,

again. my neck,



         I am not


Sara Ryan is a third-year poetry MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University and an associate poetry editor for Passages North. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Tinderbox, Slice Magazine, New South, Third Coast, Fairy Tale Review, The Blueshift Journal, Yemassee, Third Point Press and others.