Paradox by Lauren K. Carlson


Fallen flicker the small hand discovers at dusk.
Limp, not heavy, perhaps unconscious, if not dead.
The sun’s orange alighting the child’s fingers.
Bright fingertips, miniature vivid orbs (think E.T.)
which caress the wild carcass. Two boys, my son
and my son’s best friend, late into summer’s night
they play. It doesn’t get dark at all. The evening, between
them, a fine line pulled tight. And the flicker volleys
between both. Their give and take reanimating the wing’s
distinctive yellow flash, an arc which imitates flight.
But the bird isn’t brought to the lips, the bird’s breath
not blown back. There is only the thrower’s arm
bent like a bow. The receiver running.
What mimics life in the pass.


Lauren K. Carlson is the author of the chapbook Animals I Have Killed (Comstock Review’s Chapbook Prize 2018). Her work has recently appeared in Crab Creek Review, Salamander Magazine, Terrain, The Windhover and Waxwing. In 2022 she won the Levis Stipend from Friends of Writers for her manuscript in progress. Her writing has been supported by Tin House, Napa Valley Writers Conference and Sewanee Writers Conference. Lauren currently serves as editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal and holds an MFA in poetry from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

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