Searching the Skyline

I’ve dwelled too often in darkness
but here my daughter and the girls in ballet-

costume pretend to fly in loops
around the red recital floor, believing

their outstretched arms make wings,
and with faces ready for takeoff,

they uplift in possibility. I think of how
Andrew tells me to keep wild reality

separate from the wild terror,
how life is relentless but we endure,

how geese, when one is ill or tired or dying,
two more will break away from their V

to keep the other safe till it is well
or, at last, gone. Then they’ll rejoin

another group, flapping through
the only stretch of sky they see.


Jennifer Givhan was a 2010 Pen Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellow, as well as a 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award finalist and a 2012 Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways Prize finalist for her poetry collection Red Sun Mother. She was also an Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize finalist for her poetry collection Karaoke Night at the Asylum. She is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in over fifty journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2013, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, cream city review and The Los Angeles Review. She teaches composition at Western New Mexico University.