A bride and groom, illustration for May poem by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

Poem: ‘I Could Have a Thousand Husbands’


Each one, a trail in the forest of drugged
limbs as their heads question everything
their mothers told them. Witness
a dance in the flood as feet make way
back to boyness again. Against my back,
a place to eat while bent on knees, I call
them their true name, finally. We listen
to what our bodies say to each other—
not of loneliness, but of a real & wild rite.

Or maybe I’d choose just one, turn my god-
dess face toward him like the sun & back
to me, a swimming rope in summer, he’d
swing toward the one place I forgot once
knew the depths of him as one knows
how to answer the first sound of water.

Why choose only one, being a man & lonely
after walking the length of Spain? Why not
call every mother who raised you & ask for
their daughters, even if not born. Souls
are said to come to earth when a glimmer
catches their eye & man in his wandering
has made a body for this coming-home.

[Featured image by Danny Fulgencio.]

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Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her book, Before Isadore, is forthcoming with Sundress Publications and she has two chapbooks in print. She is an associate poetry editor for The Boiler Journal. Her work has appeared in Devil’s Lake, Stirring, Versal, Sugar House Review and Four Way Review, among others.


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