Laura Bylenok

Mirror Stage Phase 1

Glass of a thousand sands.
Glass that lets us see right through it.
I never wanted that kind of melting.
3,200 degrees, sunlike, thin,
a sudden rooting inward.
You never get to come back
from that system.
I wanted to be terrestrial,
yielding as a handful
of sand—colorless brain an abacus.
It should be easy, not losing count.
It should be easy to say
without knowing the implications
the word sand, singular


and then the dreams come,
silica slick in the bed afterward,
a whole world crushed like a pill
and melted, clear as a spinal
before my body hums home
its cells, turning me
into something countable,
mineral, a kind of currency
running down the river
behind my house, and I can sift
the sand with my fingers
until there’s nothing left,
feeling the grains as they fall away
the tighter I make I fist.

Laura Bylenok is the author of Warp (2015), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, and a/0 (2014). Her poetry appears in Crazyhorse, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, and Guernica, among others. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.