Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick’s work has appeared in Harpur Palate, The Texas Observer, Devil’s Lake, Four Way Review, Verse Daily, SWWIM, Huffington Post U.K., among others. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program, Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal and her first full-length, Before Isadore, was published by Sundress Publications. She currently lives in a village outside Cambridge, England.

The Escape Artist Breaks Apart After Revealing [Redacted]

I fall back at dawn & hear you say tragic &                              misunderstanding

It’s as if the interior of the moon is filled with oranges         yet to be peeled

I took another map of upstate NY out of the lobby I               remember wanting to

Want something terrible to happen a train that didn’t         believe in god

A flashlight without the ability to search for                            something

Whatever the opposite is of sound                                              a round mouth

A motel room a shell itself                                                             a great misunderstanding

A whole darkness circling a flying suit                                      like your body

You left as someone who never thinks of jumping                believing

Hair in mystical knots tied to an object drowning                it’s more than a boat

I hear you say heights are difficult to judge                                     & this room [waves hand] be careful.

I have been thinking about:

the light around your ankles in the swimming pool that summer

how horses were your favorite animal in their flickering grief you said is a long wave of rope

how your eyes could comb through lightning until it didn’t hurt

your ribs in distress

the minnows you wished would come through like a child’s game of telephone on a track where           the only race was pounding beats of imaginary wolves

morning toast

the intimacy of butter you said fat from another body into my body

your refusals over and over not even a glass a flood a hanger

your wardrobe where a mirror turned raw bone

the half-curled map of scales and ribbon of inches your mom found around your throat

your bedroom filled with crayons planes overhead babies somewhere slim as a dime

the distant maybe-future you couldn’t bite into

how still I lied

the window next to the faltering race track They’re going to build a supermarket there you said              spitting whole produce in disgust


that dappled grey mare cantering along as you died.

Detectives Find Something Written in the Tree

Something about Teresa in darkness / something

about how a forest cures the moon / how to bathe

for a ritual / the correct amount of saltwater /

something about the stomach / how to break it

open—the mirror / the grocery list / the willingness

to keep from being that girl / something about

thunder / running toward it / how one runs toward

a baby tossed out a window / a new kind of violence

like a first date / hands livid with heat / something

about nakedness / she is a roof with holes

in the scaffolding / a bored angel in a park

in that comic book / the one where the boy

got caught / something about dragging

legs through hedges / how to empty

a stomach full of tangerines / something

about a search party of wolves / waves

at half-past-eight / sometimes there’s never

enough saltwater / something about

Teresa—always turning herself in

They say he pushed her so hard against a tree

She became a tree / they say

it happened near a bank where

water moccasins breed / he made her

swallow how a river swallows

into its mouth bleating

goats / cigarettes / baby dolls

shopping lists / how ugly

the world is / they say

he broke her nose first

they say / busted

they say / girl / they say

between her legs

her hips a hill where hooves

slip off / half in water / half in

trees / they still fucking ask / So

did the goat really scream?

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