Elizabeth Metzger

We Must Outlove Each Other

In rows of extra-long
twin beds, the invincibly
clean sheets
do the screaming for us.
Night after night we remember

more. It is disgusting—
unable to suckle our kind,
nurses tap their ears
against our mouths, listening for shifts
in the spirit. They crack

ancient thermometers
between our lips, the mercury
said to provoke
the movement of memory.
What doesn’t kill us, they collect

in sparkling little pans.
They say not to be ashamed.

Elizabeth Metzger’s first collection, The Spirit Papers, won the 2016 Juniper Prize and will be published by University of Massachusetts Press in Winter 2017. Her poetry has recently appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets 2015, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal.