Melissa Stein

animal animal photography blur bright
Photo by Lukas on

Figure, ground by Melissa Stein


Catapult through hills
locking on air. So much of it
the lungs won’t take it in.

Then all’s a pinwheel, I’m
the pin. The girl
on her back

having a tantrum
on the drugstore floor
until her mother stands up and leaves.

The ladybug’s gunmetal
legs pedaling machinely
until they still

and fold. The body
is an envelope.
The air black

diamonds and helium
I’m far too far
to grieve.


Copyright©2018 Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.


Melissa Stein is the author of  the poetry collections Terrible blooms (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and Rough Honey, winner of the 2010 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected by Mark Doty. Her poems have appeared inPloughshares, American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Southern Review, New England Review, Best New Poets, Beloit Poetry Review, Harvard Review, North American Review,and many other journals and anthologies. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and her work has won awards from The Pushcart Prize, Spoon River Poetry Review, Literal Latte, Redivider, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, among others. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis, and is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.