Poem of the Week | September 23, 2019

Hanna Andrews is the author of Slope Move (Coconut Books, 2013) and the co-founder (and former Editor) of Switchback Books. She has also served as Managing Editor of Witness Magazine, and Content Editor (including curator of the Poem-a-Day series) at the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in Conduit, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Interim, and Nevada Public Radio, among other venues. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is finishing her second collection of poems.


City of Daughters


We lit the ground around the summer thistle, buttercups to nose
tips, pollen smear. Spread towels over the crag, wished for salt hair
when the algae wove to our shoulders. Later, when the bar closes
for a private party, we stutter out to the street, not so smooth,
eventually sprawl over cobblestone. We’re autopilot, rubber room.
Counting toward something on the calendar. We use our shadow
voices, sotto voce, send ourselves roses at the office on all the right
holidays. Didn’t spring come in like a chokehold? Watching
chemical orange backlight all the buildings we know & those June
weddings where the horses pose for photos on the sloping plains,
our bodies pastelled into tableau. When the colors turn, we promise
ourselves, we’re going to Kentucky, we’re going to the fair. For
now, we wait with star charts & faith in the slow fate, a latewalker’s
return. We remember you most when framed by the doorway, or
when the aspen grove waves mother-of-pearl in the westward wind
shift. We spend whole afternoons underwater, drowning in your


Author’s Note

This poem is part of a series of poems with the same title, all written in the first-person plural. The city of daughters, as a version of a “chorus” here, seeks to amplify the shared, but often unspoken, experience of trauma, and serves as a gesture to decentralize the classical hero narrative by re-authoring it in a collective female voice.