Jim Whiteside

Untitled #342

—photograph of doll parts in grass, Cindy Sherman

When you see the body before you, what
do you really see—something marvelous, or
unmended? When formed in bronze,
the naked body is one that claims victory,
clothed only in helmet, spear in hand.
There was once we pretended to get lost
in a new city and discussed the many beautiful
things designed for killing: colorful rainforest
frogs, the goshawk’s curved beak,
an old revolver with its carved handle.
Lying awake, I count these things, think
of the way a bow must bend
to be useful. There is one version of the story
where I hold up my hand as if to say
Wait, where everything keeps reversing until
the moment just before I first let you touch
me. There’s another version where we sit on
a bench, watching a girl roll a tire across a field.

Jim Whiteside recently earned his MFA in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is the recent recipient of a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Southern Review, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter, and Post Road, among others. Originally from Cookeville, Tennessee, he works as a barista and occasionally teaches in Greensboro, North Carolina.