national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014
Poetry Prize Winner

Split Linen

Luke Patterson  • 
University of Houston

The rip in my sheet grew until it stretched the length of the bed;
its edges curled back, spreading in the middle to reveal stained mattress.

 

A twenty-six-year-old male was eviscerated during a robbery;
I took pictures with my phone of the wide laceration, the looped intestine.

 

You say that you won’t spend the night until I get new sheets,
and leave after sex. I sleep between the folds of split linen.

 

I spent last winter backpacking in east Texas, close to the border
where stars burned in the cold air, untouched by light pollution.

 

I remember how the long and beautiful gash of the Milky Way cut through the sky—
I wanted to push my fingers into it, widen the wound, reveal its secrets.