Alisa Heinzman

July 25, 2009


The light withdrawn to the fence base. A shadow the shape of your yellow chair. There is no chair but you reach both ways in your yellow shirt and pretend to swim the backstroke. Star leaves mat the deck. I am laughing and holding my cheeks. Your mother laughs but is pretending. Far leaves from the neighbor’s tree hover and flip over the fence. Here they come. All at once. I am holding two glasses of lemonade in white plastic cups with snowflakes. Goddamned blower says your dad.

A muddy sandbox. The bloody-lipped shovel lying face up. Your shin marked crooked red. Along the chain fence puppies are trying to squeeze through. One has got his head caught in the links. Velvet, fist-sized skull. The willow tree slips an arm underground and into our yard. Little clumps of cotton float from the right. We talk of digging a swimming pit.

A lemon colored banana seat strung with chains and slung over a tree branch. An old sheet tied up like a bandana. The sky is apathetic. There are no birds but cotton clumps float in the sun like edible butterflies. Like spongy spaceships. Something nibbles the tree base. It’s becoming a muddy mulch. You’re slipping.

We are birthed from a shield volcano. We can shimmy up a willow tree lickety split. Our toenails are made of obsidian. Around us the yard is burning but we are not burning. We are children of the widow. I dangle my feet till they char. Last summer you did a swinging back flip. This is to show you I saw.


A hush of sharp day sounds when the names gape.
The stones say Jones and Estes, Wintermute and Fast.
Certain hills hug to each and cast curvedly, crouched
and weathered and backed with arborous plumes.
A tree curls out from its middle, white-dusted toward the near-night sky.

And here in tarrying thick of country and breath it seems possible
to scream to the muted space
of gray turf that harbors, surely, a wildness.

Near home the walkways flanked with lines fall to an order,
which fails to fall to my sense.
Our apartment, fourth door back, square like the columbarium.


Magenta, obscene in its thickness, laps at the dock legs.
This is the sea of my lapse
coiling back from insistent flattening,
wound to rounds and then to ravel,

remembered light like the lay of knives,
a hollow broken toward like the pumpkin’s webbed center.

Might I say without shame–
the shadows lie dashed and strewn,
skin leavens in this shadelessness.


Here I think I could be a hill people
footing pined slopes, satin bedded
in a dried creek cradle, the chance of flurry.

And host them, the conference, at a carved round
in the wood where they will sit, circling
in suits awaiting a change.

Are we yet going, is there a place yet to be gone to.
Always arriving with a sense of not yet mended and
the sight of water-siding rocks swarmed with spiders.

Seem to shudder or squirm. The men at table
set with elbows adjust their knotted ribbons, loosening and tightening,
letting stream down near unstrung.

I hear the eastward roar that drags through branches like a blanket.
It sifts the slopes and grabs quick at the cords.

Alisa Heinzman lives in Oakland and attends Saint Mary’s College of California’s MFA Program. She is co-editor of the journal Calaveras, which will debut this Fall. Her poems have appeared in Laurus and Inknode and are forthcoming in The Benefactor Magazine and Shampoo.Alisa Heinzman Photo for BRL

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