Two Poems by Callie Siskel



constellation of your birth.

Not a womb, but a jar,

not a woman,

but a man waiting

to water the heart of winter.

Let me imagine Aquarius

as a doctor, since I’m an unbeliever


in signs but not of similitudes—

the power to see ourselves

in sculpted figures, caged

in stars. Desperate to be seen

myself, I envy the one

who saw you first—Aquarius

in the room where you emerged

and reddened the season,


a red flicker, a meteor,

a slap on the back, the aftermath

of origin, that brief moment

of unseasonable color

before the flood. But the truth

is Aquarius only intimates

water—suggests the possibility of thaw—

the jar at an impossible pitch.


I saw it tilting away from us,

relief in retrograde, and with it

the slosh of time I received

with you who made me.

I, too, was like water,

unable to attach, coursing

under the center of a frozen lake,

that cannot reach the surface.



In a city without snow
I find myself trying to startle
a miracle—to see my father
in the drowned shimmer
of a highway mirage.
Make the appearance of water
his last winter, a distant pane.
Look at me, it gleams,
disappearing upon approach.
Come back, come back.
I believe in angles—
the way they change
course suddenly
and without regard
for witnesses, like a finger
passing through a flame
or the hands on a clock
pulling apart the hour.

Image Credit: “Water” by Johann Justin Preissler (Public Domain) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

About the author

Callie Siskel is the author of Arctic Revival, selected by Elizabeth Alexander for a 2014 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her poems appear in Ploughshares, A Public Space, The Yale Review, and other journals. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is a Dornsife Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California, and a poetry editor at The Los Angeles Review of Books.

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