Two Poems

Lauren Hilger

State fair

I believe in the game
and win the Tamagotchi.
In my hand, it has a pulse or a beat, sort of alive.
I feed it lollipops, jelly hearts. It moves
like a diaphanous creature, like
a complicated multicellular organism,
an extension of me. Against the wall
of the Gravitron, I keep one leg down,
one leg held in a standing split. Mass up,
Velocity down, relative rates
at which the constant pressure
holds me in place. It’s childish
and deserves a blue ribbon.
I am scared of the ones that spin,
the rides that sling you inside yourself,
the pirate ship held aloft by a cable
that sifts in two directions so
you’re falling both ways. The
hammer, its required strength,
that asks are you external? Do
you really only exist here?
Saved nowhere else.
Sun sets. Look twice nothing’s
there. I stand in line as if I were tall.
Lick the side of a lemonade for
water, to say I swallow nothing.
But there it is, that hot metal horse under me,
that ride I pay for, that circle I
make heavy. In gymnastics, all
kinetic potential, I run a full length
of the floor and then stop right before,
my body keeps going,
my skin burns the mats from face
to ankle, broken vessels. I ate dirt,
we said. All that rugburn. I had stopped myself
from being thrown across the room.
It came out anyway.


The place has carved out my sleep. I walk it every night.

When I moved here, there were old sounds,
a sputtering meter at the end of a cab ride,

back of the ferry, its engine like the
low-end keys of a baby grand,

like a whale, centuries away.

Then too I believed the beauty of things I didn’t have,

an evening shrug, light blue, dark red stained-glass windows, staged
and elaborate.

the noun <<cicatrice>>,
that sounds more like it,

the citron glow of a scar, still there, the sour of the word,

the softness of the word ruins, the softness of inward ruins,

my signature.

We still measure how long we will live.

A sweetened charge of color
if you unfocus.

But I could lengthen always into this.

Lauren Hilger is the author of Lady Be Good (CCM, 2016.) Named a Nadya Aisenberg Fellow in poetry from MacDowell, she has also received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has appeared in BOMB, Harvard Review online, Kenyon Review online, Pleiades, The Threepenny Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She serves as a poetry editor for No Tokens.

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