national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014
Honorable Mention in Poetry

At the Edge

Eva Nisley  • 
Colorado College

Everything other than the present is terrifying.

We talked about it yesterday on the roof instead of class,

watching unimagined land spread into designated lots,

 

the gutted exteriors of sheds, overgrown lawns of dying women.

You wondered, when they look in mirrors at their faces,

fanned with wrinkles, violent and old, do they think

 

that’s me? Then, tributaries of fences, teeming brambles

of vines and recycling bags draped over porch railings,

waiting for the son-in-law to come and take them out.

 

We were sick with situations. We reached for beers

and things we could hold in our hands. You said,

we are cornered in every direction by infinity.

 

The almost-sun stilling in the halted noon,

we talked of places that used to be our homes

in ways we knew how to remember, about people

 

we’d learned how to describe. Chicago’s grid

pulling its netted chaos at the rim of the lake, you said

it’s like we’re always living at the edge of something.

 

Looking down at the drop, shingles collecting under feet

calloused and angling towards an imperceptible ground,

I thought, we’re wrong. This is terrifying too.