Jennifer Perrine

Dear False Positive,

You leap and press under my skin, a fling
of limbs into air—your circus trick, spin

and flash and dare. No crowd to stare, to gape

as you aim for weightless, no gravity,
as if I’m knocked up by a trampoline.

Vagabond, why won’t you reside in me,

won’t you cry the dull hiss of tinnitus,
aftermath of music? No crowd to roar,

to shout when your no-body will come out

of my body, all its hollows flooded
with dark. Dear stranger I cannot create,

I wait for you, shiver I cannot shake.

Breath drawn through water, through ice, still fills
the lungs. I have not seen you, but I have

known the plunge into your winter lake, heard

the siren call of your never-face, blank
sky under which I learn to navigate.

Jennifer Perrine is the author of No Confession, No Mass (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry; In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press, 2011), recipient of the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize; and The Body Is No Machine (New Issues, 2007), winner of the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry. Jennifer teaches courses in creative writing and social justice and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, visit