Laura Kochman

In Unsettled Fields

We stood around like animals under the tree      
eating from our own foragings     And delight
in our shoulders       

She stood modestly in the field
of the parable
                               But still impossible

You can’t just take / what isn’t yours

And how do you know your own belongings

The meat peeled from the shell

Often concerned with fairness, the middle child

And I have taken my folks across the river
from my temporary home
to eat pecans from a public sidewalk

What I took from that parable was
modesty instead of harvest

If you’re ruthless are you without modesty

Inside the nut are corridors between two rooms
and they    Small brains
Compete for resources

I wish I had said
that I love this land
though it was never mine to gather
lo I can pluralize the word
though I do not understand it


How dangerous it is      to long
to be with those already dead

She says It’s a foreign country
and their bodies are long and wilted

Wilted and long as their bodies trailing
behind them are their lists of vacancies

Many hands’ worth she says examining
my skin     There is one pore,

and another and another making the membrane
A long march in and out of you

Behind my skin I don’t get it
but my dead are already marching
pulpy and tilted

One waits in the bath with bent legs
One calls New Jersey / New Jersey / New Jersey
from a bridge near the high water mark
One is unsticking each index finger and thumb
One jogs loops around the park through dirty snow

I used to speak / language / in that other country

She says How nice it is to meet you all

I say Can I have a quarter for the toll bridge

And the coin clicks across each hole
on the surface of the basin

One arm raises in the future
just like I remember it

Axis Point

In the sand ring sometimes you are closer to the parking lot / sometimes the pasture

corner                  corner                      corner                     corner
                                                                                        the rhythm of the ring a four-beat gait

Sometimes caught in the hunter circle
                                                  where the lines in the sand are braided

Where /
I saw her

Her heel hard against the deep brown barrel of his belly as he spun around her, the still point at the center of the circle

which is to say, she kicked him from the ground.

It is not the fence I love
                        It is the small valley of sand behind it

and the axis point
                                 an inflating sense of joy

Which is to say
                                       the smallest of movements
                                                                                                      of the eye slowly rolling
                              from this spot I pocket
                                                                          the mouth with which it takes
                                                                          to make a sound of displeasure

The center of the circle is both still and quiet

               which are different things

               My mouth not moving

                                                                               Deep banks in the corners    built up

The illusion of roundness insists
In riding everything is a circle

                  How to push into the corner      Please bend around my leg     stay soft

Sometimes the pasture
is a symptom of belief    the pasture

                                              In the dry sun
                                                                                                            feet flashing past under the fence

                                From the position of observation I become
                                                            which position           watched or seeing
                                                                                                     a hand on a taut neck

                                            I know the dirt       in my nose         The quivering soft lip

The slick of my fingers in the corner of a mouth
                        for which there is no other word than velvet

                                                          Don’t tell me what’s not still      I am busy being unaware

                                                     In making the circle we get faster
                                                                                                                                       accelerate out
             to make a true curve       The corner can be the edge of any number of circles
                                                              all leaving thin lines
                                                                                                           one aching shoulder
                                                                                                           the joy of muscles

                         Indicating displeasure I bare my teeth
                                                          the face of sand               barely
                         Indicating displeasure I soften at the hips

                                                           It is the moment when everything moves except my legs

                                                           This is the same
                         as the other moments           sequentially each leg is still
                         on each side       of the breathing       wall

In the hunter circle making a polite indication of intent

                                                                               of a smaller roundness        marking

                                                            of space one white sock / in each corner a tent stake


He did not slow down but sped toward the source of his joy.

An honesty in intent       
                 Is it really possible to slow a fall
                                            at the point in the curve where
                                                                                                            the joy banks in the corner

                 Busy fingers                 slack-footed               the place where the poles touch

This is a deep corner     pocketed                          a constant reburying of feet  

I saw her
                                 my hand on my taut neck

              Please continue in your roundness      and be soft
                                                                                                              not a sharp place to turn around

Her heel hard against the deep brown barrel of his belly

                                               Some things are not easily observed        taking their time and slack
                        not easily unburied     I am watching
                                                                                   the hook of my finger around the rein around
                                                                                   the edge of a soft lip looking
                                                                                   for the place in which      I pivot

Laura Kochman is the author of Future Skirt (dancing girl press) and The Bone and the Body (BatCat Press). She is originally from New Jersey, but currently lives, writes, and feeds her cat in Philadelphia. Her recent work is found or forthcoming in The Wanderer, Pith, inter|rupture, Gigantic Sequins, Entropy, Quarterly West, and others, and she is a book reviewer for Anomaly. She has trouble keeping both succulents and her website alive.