Lucy Wainger


If I live long enough to change
may my future self betray me.
Unfix each wrist from the other’s grip
and run, illuminating nothing.
May the names I gave things
no longer click into place—

beneath her feet, what I call ground
will bleed out, what I think law
will soften in her hot, living hand
like a piece of ice,
a piece of water.

If I am a myth, enter history.
If I am history, forget
I mentioned myth. That’s the problem—
we use these same few words, as if each meant
something singular. A voice begs “stay”
and I freeze, assume

it means here. What will she do
when I tell her to run? What good
would a history do her, anyway—
what would this tight, stupid myth—

If I live long enough to touch
with hands no longer mine
terrain I do not yet recognize
as fertile, may my future self
call it “ground”
and get to her feet.

Lucy Wainger is author of the forthcoming chapbook In Life There Are Many Things (Black Lawrence Press, 2023), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems appear or will appear in Best American Poetry, DIAGRAM, The Margins, POETRY, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. She grew up in New York City and is currently an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst.