DON’T TOUCH by Elisabeth Lloyd Burkhalter


by Elisabeth Lloyd Burkhalter

Magnolia to aloe, silver-sheened river, and shallow.
We are minor in the composition but figure prominently.
Often now I think of the past as a large country
of crumpled maps, fragments
arranged under my feet. Hasn’t it always been
a question of which trees, which injuries
to include, where to place them? To be human is to hoard.
We keep the hours to curate them:
Imagine a place, now mute its colors. Rip out

the forms that marked you and reshape yourself
around them. Call the curved lines memory.
Of course I want to say love changed us
though I’ve collected you, winged, heavy-limbed
as I would anything else: Virginia’s blue hours,
pine underbrush, the suggestion of a face.
The paste is still setting. Please, don’t touch.


Elisabeth Lloyd Burkhalter graduated from the University of Virginia’s Area Program in Poetry Writing and moved to Paris, where she organized conferences in the wood construction industry. Her poetry has appeared in the The Mississippi Review and The Collagist. She now works as an apprentice to a tailor and writes in Bandjoun, Cameroon. Elisabeth is a Cleaver Emerging Artist






Image credit: David Straight on Unsplash


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