Paige Webb

Chapter in which the aperture closes in on several details, revealing the scene

Pedestrians point to the out of frame
            lamppost, sky, storefront
all parallel to those in view through
            the window one woman calls
Self-Portrait with Various Faces
            Looking Up. Desire strikes her,
to be that saw palmetto, that pinned
            curl behind an ear. Hooked
curtains reveal rote motion
            leaves play their role
efficiently in. A stance of surrender
            to indecision’s seductive lilt
is an optical illusion. She likes to gather
            kindling she’ll never light.
Walks her five dogs separately
            in succession
to compartmentalize, small bites.
            Says, pleasure. Says, beautiful
parking meters, so meek. Today: sundry
            jackets in reliable bustle, one
stretched plastic bag hefted over
            a shoulder, as how her lover swung
in this morning. She said, let’s drive hard
            and fast into stability, mid-gesture
her ring flew off into the teeming
            grass. She no longer believes
in emblematic moments, as one
            informs the brain’s lean
on routine, familiar slopes
            grooved out. The therapist said try
to imagine the unending snow
            skirt whisked up in pursuit.
Parallel to yesterday, she buys a coffee
            to rent a chair far from
the blue highchair of childhood, not
            sepia toned, complete with
the architecture of her mother’s back
            bent to wipe up her smashed
greens. If ardor can cover a scene, cast
            periphery out to tend each corner where
light bends, despite the narrowed field,
            the diagram’s slice of the visible,
the human slice on time’s narrative,
            then this is how one can step away
from oneself, she thinks, to touch. The thought
            touches the roof of her mouth.


Paige Webb’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review,, DIAGRAM, Portland Review, and elsewhere. She recently received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she co-edited the poetry anthology February, and now teaches in Columbus, Ohio.

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