Sasha Steensen

from Hendes






Taking oneself to be less and less important

by engaging oneself all the more, like a toddler

tantruming on the floor. The day forgave

the burden of self-care, undoubtedly

the most difficult to bear. I imagine

myself a whale whose brain only half sleeps

so that she might continue to breathe. I’m not one

to be in the night easily nor to give ear

to the silent e in bee. I’m not one even.

I’m plenty and too many, the infection

echoing be. Its humming relieves my sleep.









Today, when it starts to snow, I write a poem

and I stop when it stops.  It is very off

and on. The gleaming street too warm to hold it

and wet, like me.

Then no word, no thing

but blazing until September when the children

spot the forgotten zucchini and haul it

into the house.  It’s the size of May, June, July

and August combined. It’s the size of my

desire, bitter useless now, we set it

on the lawn where it rots. But still hot, it holds

off the frost, like me, coming coming gone.









There may not be a bottom to this

curiosity.  There may not be ambergris

in the whale’s tummy.  We see not day

uttering speech or night revealing anything

but worry. His handiwork looks anxiety

in the face. It has more than a thousand eyes

that dart about.  It has two mouths that barely

breathe. It has a hundred hearts each of which beats

sporadically. I look over its shoulder and instantly,

I see what was unforeseen between God and me.

The seam of oblivion smells so sweet.










Preternatural tree because look

at its leaves. Have you ever seen veins pulsing

like this? The wind may be the leaves’ enemy

but day and night meet early, are meeting now

actually, both equally dignitaries

of this earth.  The little brown bat who slept

for nineteen hours with half his thoughts on-

going is up.  He likes the dusk.  Who doesn’t?

No cell is still at this hour so we traffic it,

the movement.  We do not light a lamp, come

what may, its spring arms flayed, as if in embrace.








One knows the dawn by the line drawn.

The burning ship on the horizon—the image

of terror and no way to get out there.

Tender holds both, not only an exchange

but a pain and the new love affair

beginning at birth but interrupted

by the amber alert. I search my body for my

children and they emerge. Today is full

of so many things tomorrow won’t be. The sea

smoky, the Muderkill River contaminated,

and laundry. It comes to nothing. A relief.


SASHA STEENSEN is the author of four books of poetry, most recently House of Deer (Fence Books), and Gatherestforthcoming from Ahsahta Press. She has published several essays including Openings: Into Our Vertical Cosmos at Essay Press. She is a poetry editor for Colorado Review and she teaches at Colorado State University. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she tends chickens, goats, a barn cat, a bearded dragon, a standard poodle and two children.