“Survivor’s Guide to Sex” by Elizabeth Hoover
Two days before the declared frost, cold snap.
You wake to find the fields a bank, stalks
lost to morning light. Walk through wheat,
stems snap, brittle with cold. Look
into an ear: each kernel is brushed white.
You notice details like that more often
now—how, when wheat bends under the weight
of ice its hair catches in the frozen mud and
can’t yank free, even in a strong wind.
Look into the swallow-less sky. Calculate
the acres of ruin, the acres of what
can be saved. Then return. He is just finishing
his toast. Or return and find him still asleep or
do not return. Go into the field. When you walk
over the spiculated ground, it will be like
walking over the tiny bones of your own
inner ear. As you walk, you will recite
your litany of at leasts and add one more.
At least take off your shoes, feel the blades
of frost opening your skin like relief.
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Elizabeth Hoover Artist Statement:
Elizabeth Hoover is a feminist poet who enjoys working on projects with a conceptual or
research element. She received the 2015 StoryQuarterly’s essay prize, judged by Maggie
Nelson. Her poetry has appeared in [Pank], The Los Angeles Review, and The Pitch,
among others. She was a finalist for the 2015 Orlando Prize. She is a freelance book critic
and lives in Pittsburgh with her partner and a cat named Brad. You can see more of her
work at ehooverink.com.