Liz Harms

Anti-Elegy for Cheryl Araujo

I played pool today,                 Cheryl,

                  laughed without hesitation

        with each sunken cue                  stroked

                            the expanse of green worsted-wool.

                                The sick I should feel


I’m red-lipped, welcoming

the thrill of chase.         

Everything is about desire.

                                        I pretend you left home


                        for serenity of the ocean—

live beachside, still.

                                                Your only Google hit

                                announces you as mother

                        of an honor student.  

I, too, dreamt of escape—                        

of emerging         reborn      

from foaming surf,        

                                body sluicing shallows

                                        to you, waiting down shore         

                lit Marlboro in your lips.

                No pay phones.         No need

        to call.             Only sand so soft

it slips from our skin

                                claiming nothing for itself.        

Only us

women who inhale

with each wave

as if they alone


                                        control the breaking

                        we shed our dresses                

we shed our dresses                 

and the sun rises                    

 to warm us.

Liz Harms is a poet and intersectional feminist from Arkansas. She earned her MFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she now serves as the Managing Editor for Ninth Letter. Harms’ manuscript, Object, was named by Juan Felipe Herrara as a finalist for the 2023 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry from California State University, Fresno and Anhinga Press. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming from Prairie Schooner, 3Elements Review, Noble / Gas Qtrly, and Duende.