Asymmetry, Boyhood – A Poem by Eric Stiefel

Georges Seurat – Study for “Bathers at Asnieres

Poetry by Eric Stiefel

Our animal halves below the water,
back pressed to the metal faucet, your hair
flush blonde from the sun, grit and saltpeter
smoke submerged in the youth of the tub.

Other times the scene feels less fabricated—

When your mother tells it, for instance:

I wanted to touch the scar on his pelvis,

but didn’t, even then, despite some faint tenderness.

My own mother says I hugged you

so hard I squeezed tears from your bird-chest.

Cap gun on the bathroom floor, wrists you could
wrap a fist around now, parents’ beach house, faded
superhero action figure caught in the stripes
of my boxers, the window-light left to be forgotten,

the habit to reduce such a mystery to love. Other times

the memory passes into the stillness I call my brain.

About the Poet

Eric Stiefel is a graduate of the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also served as junior fellow in poetry.  He was recently named the winner of the 2018 Sequestrum New Writer Awards and a finalist in the 2018 Penn Review Poetry Prize.  His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Foglifter, Communion, Dream Noir, The Louisville Review and elsewhere.

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