3 Poems by Lindsay Illich

Mama Explains the Exteriority of Invention (The Talk)


When she told me what the body becomes

in the hands of another body,

I saw the sea in chevrons, a crowded

din, the mechanics of desire,

among them a diagram of a lightbulb,

the filament pulsing in it and lo,

a new idea graphically rendered

in a way I understood how to articulate.


When I read quote the good Yvonne
and bad Yvonne, two of the four times
I’ve been in love unquote, I understood

genealogy like eyes, they have the same, or gait,

I am yours. Knew I was yours

because of our gray flecked dark

narrative style. Do our mothers bear

us or do we bear their resemblance?


When I don’t recognize anyone

in a paragraph, I check

the metal key above the chimney

to see if the flue is open,

for why else wouldn’t I feel

your draft, my desire

a fluency with open,

the fingers of thinking.


Walking in the city, making libraries

of my thighs (I’m always lending),

books flying in and out of them

like birds, a murder of pages, the murmur

become quarto the quarto become

codex and we are endlessly






If you add a bell ringing

to any word you get a kind of love:

Earth-ling, star-ling, dar-ling.

Earthling, starling, darling—

with suckle, with succor, in situ,

as if love was the evidence of attention,

seedling to sapling. I love you wholly

with my mouth when I think

of words like Stockholm. Like Nebraska.

Like sycamore. To tell the truth

I’ve blown these words

in you, if only to register

their beauty against your brief

skin, words striking against

the tuning fork of your legs.
Just to hear their ringing.






You could tell I’d been drinking

from the way I tasted, my body

a reverse front range, recognizable

for miles, like the Mariana trench.

I was a calendar I wanted to fill

with your appointments,

your chest a bank of windows, strands

of saffron in the glass tube

of your torso, August over:

there was a child. God bless

those machines I read

easier than her face

and the early morning, when nothing

is on, I hear her soft breathing,

see her nose in silhouette,

the light from the window growing

lighter, the grass beyond,

the Gulf wind, the fronds of our

mimosa, her pink listing

and this life I was after

having somehow arrived.



Lindsay Illich is the author of Heteroglossia (Anchor and Plume, 2016) and Rile & Heave (Texas Review Press, 2017), which won the Texas Review Press Breakout Prize in Poetry.

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