Poem of the Week | November 27, 2017

This week, we are excited to present a new poem by Alana Folsom. Folsom earned an MFA in poetry from Oregon State University, where she founded and was the Editor-in-Chief of their literary magazine, 45th Parallel. Her poetry has been published in The Journal, Hobart, PANK, Apogee, and others; her critical writing has been published in The Iowa Review and the Rumpus. Find her @axfolsom.

Eleven Sentences

I had feelings for the bookshelves, how stoic and broad, how much like the shoulders of men on television.

If they were in my backyard instead of in my living room, they could have held up the sun.

When my parents were in lesser rooms, cooking pasta or replying to mass emails, I rubbed up against the bookshelves slowly until the damp fist inside me unclenched.

I was taken by how they didn’t speak to me.

It worked like this: I’d hike up my dress or shimmy down my jeans.

I’d press and rock into the oak, eyes open, until I felt warm—like a strange tickle, like a said aloud secret.

I tried to be egalitarian: I’d choose a different shelf, a different height, each night.

(Also to not wear down a specific patch of finish, which mom would have noticed.)

I looked at others—modular, built-in—unimpressed: they were missing my bookshelves’ strength and stature.

Sometimes when I sat on the denim couch and watched The Bachelor with Mom and Suzanne on Wednesday nights I was so close to the bookshelves I’d have to cross my legs.

When I went to sleep I felt protected by their presence, even three rooms over, and always whispered goodnight.


Author’s Note:

Excited about the question, “What if we could be attracted to things that weren’t people?,” I held the poem’s first clause in my head for months before adopting the childish voice. The voice propelled the imaginative absurdity of the poem’s premise and also allowed for a necessary sincerity. Too, the voice provided me with the form: a kind of awry writing exercise that’s the right amount of stilted, that tests out new vocabulary and sentence structures along with new emotions. I wanted to explore the awkward, maybe even unsexy, parts of female sexuality that are its overlooked beginnings.