ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Alex Stolis


Postcard from the Knife-Thrower's Wife
August 11 - Kichener, Ontario

Tell me something. Tell me a memory that has not happened
yet. Tell me we’ve grown old together. That the sky can bleed

sounds as well as color. I remember every story you ever told
me, can still taste the salt on your lips, feel the crush of your

body. This morning a deer wandered into the yard, tentative, 
as if waiting to be startled. The mist hid the dew, a small breeze 

caused the leaves to shimmer. Her ears went up nostrils flared
and she leapt away. I wondered if you were awake, what moon

or sun you held on your tongue and how many stories you have 
buried carefully under your skin, waiting for me.


Postcard from the Knife-Thrower's Wife
August 13 - Windsor, Ont. 

Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. I am
landlocked in this city of bones, dream daily of oceans, fire.

I’m an origami in a clenched fist but your secret is safe inside
me. Last night there was rain, not the steady hum of drops 

but crashing waves. I will not be your martyr. I don’t believe 
in myths or men who play gods at war and become stranded  

on islands with witches. Today I went swimming, the water 
a midsummer lukewarm. I listened for the wind, the wheat. 

Listened. Listened for the now, acutely aware of every breath. 
I dove, felt dark wet gravity pull me to the bottom. I recalled 

the curve of you, the presence of light, air. Closing my eyes, 
I pushed off the lake floor. When I broke the surface, the sun 

had vanished, a thin line on the horizon wavered red, orange, 
yellow. Then black.


Postcard from the Knife-Thrower’s Wife
August 24 - Maysville, KY

I got back from a walk before the thunder and dark clouds 
rolled in; was thinking of you 
and how many names there are for hunger.

On the day we wed, my dress was soaked with rain, my hair 
a tangled mess; you smiled, looked up at the beauty and ruin 
of the bruised sky, and kissed me. 

The next morning you made me breakfast and I had to hold back
my laughter as you burned the toast; you feigned a scowl, 
saying you were distracted by my legs.

I never told you, but I’d catch you watching me sing 
while making dinner; your head tilted toward the kitchen,
lips moving silently. 

Today, I’m alone. The sun peeks out, a cardinal flashes red 
in our crabapple tree, and I wonder; how many names 
are there for grief.


Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis

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