circles and spheres and other well-rounded objects

Tara Stillions Whitehead

 

this is how you calculate infinity     how you get different results by doing the same

thing over and over     how you remain dizzy long after the spinning stops     how

you begin living after a lifetime contemplating death

 

here is where to point your finger when you want to blame God for something

how to hold a fired gun accountable     how to settle for less so that you can make

room for more

 

these are the pills you take when you want to become a new person     these are the

pills you take when you want to find the old one     these are the places to touch

when you stop feeling like yourself, or when you’re contemplating those bottles of

vanilla or mouthwash

 

this is how to listen when no one is talking     how to start a fire without dryer lint or

light bulbs   how to unwrap a wound you didn’t know was a wound     how to not die

trying

 

here are the ingredients for the perfect storm     the hiding places where you can lose

yourself

 

this is how to unlock your front door on days when the world is going to

end     how to wear hope inside out like a shirt that isn’t yours

 

this is how you open a child’s chest and vacuum the glitter out     this is how you fill

a child with the world they will have to fix     this is how you collect the broken glass

when a child’s work is done—how you teach broken glass to make a window     how

you teach broken glass to make a mirror

 

this is how you use a window to learn from the past     how you use a mirror to see

the future

 

here is how to wade through an ocean that isn’t yours     how to live in the sunlight

without casting shadows     how to interpret your grandmother’s tongues

 

this is how to love the child who came from blood muscle     this is how to love the

child who came from that space between loneliness and urge     this is how to love

the child who is rotten before the harvest and hollowed of seed—how children from

broken geometries find their own symmetry     outside of circles and spheres and

other well-rounded objects

 

this is how you get the laces even on the first try     how to turn your desire into land

and your body into prayer

 

this is how to stay clean when there is no water     how to pray when there is no one

awake

 

here is how to read between lines that are neither fine nor oblique     lines without

knots or surface tension     lines too heavy, cast too deep

 

here is the word you were looking for     the sentence without the metaphor     the

lover you never fucked.

 

here is how to write indeterminately     how to bury an unfinished story before it

becomes a story

how to forgive yourself     for not wanting it to end

#

Tara Stillions Whitehead is a writer, professor, and filmmaker from California. Her work can be found in a variety of journals, closets, drawers, notebooks, and film/TV vaults, including cream city review, The Rupture, Monekybicycle, PRISM international, and Jellyfish Review. An avid runner and Jason Isbell fan, she lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, with her family and cats.