Caroline Stevens


We make our bed by the river, thick 
with lupine, silt-tongued and wanting 
each other’s slick heat despite the fever 
running through your currents, 
your fresh scars lit up from within. 
One afternoon in the downy sunlight 
we rescue a duckling tumbling through 
the red water, rudderless as a clam. 
We bed it in a box of Trivial Pursuit 
softened by washcloths atop the heating 
pad you’ve been using on your twisted 
insides, now cystless and raw as silk— 
then bicker and careen through deer- 
fraught woods into Duluth, deliver it  
to a doorstep where they promise 
rehabilitation, a reverse storking. 
Back in the cabin’s gaslamp glow, 
embers mow the kindling that burns 
faster than we can feed it. I feed you 
fatty steak and roasted fingerlings 
and after, we release steam, seethe 
and press into each other’s wet heft 
in the twin bed, just the pines outside 
and the cloud-covered sickness of night. 
Did you feel it then, too? A premonition 
of ashes, burnt to the field’s mound? 

Caroline Stevens is a Chicago-based poet originally from Minneapolis. She holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University, where she won the 2022 & 2023 Academy of American Poets University Prize and served as the Editor in Chief of Nashville Review. Her work can be found in Parentheses Journal, Buffalo Journal, and elsewhere.