Play

Beach sand and ocean blossom
at high tide. We claw the cliff
toward our hotel

drunk. We tear off clothes. Our skin
soaked with night. Squares of light from windows

frame face, thigh, elbow. Stars
seep in. Still as sun dial, the room

shadows around me. My eyes close. A bud
retracts color. Silhouettes of bird of
paradise dip like oil rigs beyond blinds. Sky

eaten. Freeway headlights stream
walls and sheets we huddle between. Quiet
on quiet, we lie

paws up, until sheets erect
a tent held by our heads. With flashlight

poised, you show me
myself as a child, one
I’ve never seen.

Ely Shipley‘s first book, Boy with Flowers, won the 2007 Barrow Street Press book prize and the 2009 Thom Gunn Award. His poems and lyric essays have appeared in the Western Humanities Review, Prairie Schooner, Fugue, Gulf Coast, Phoebe, Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Diagram, Barrow Street, Lo-Ball, Third Coast, and elsewhere. He holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Utah, an MFA from Purdue University, and currently teaches literature and writing at Baruch College-CUNY.

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