Jennifer Givhan

Refugio State

Searing into beach as if demented        a woman stakes a tent

Does anyone feed the birds        does anyone sleep on dirt

A body can survive beneath a pier        sea life attaching itself

to the underbelly        I am pillared by bilge water         a host

of barely visible creatures        I’ve forgotten how to swim

Campsite swabbed of ashes        trash        a marbled tin pot

of coffee my mother would let me sip        grounds        A woman

not her        no longer anyone I know        unrolls a bag

for lying in like a crab atop the sand        Did I really fall

asleep here        once        fat with my daughtered belly

& scorching        It’s been a long time        it’s been too long

I’ve misunderstood        I’ve lost something        Geiger me

No one could survive this scabby plankton        this unkempt

I slept an ocean of ache        & woke        & fed the birds that settled

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize) and Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Series, University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming). Her honors include an NEA Fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Net 2015, Best New Poets 2013, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, and The Kenyon Review. She is Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and teaches at The Poetry Barn.