Caitlin Neely

After Sappho

August: jaw hinged hills,
sharp scent of swallow.

Summer like flesh, like nettle.

Having been stained,
having been rapt and body

phosphorescent, inside
the mouth—acre of longing,

of mountaintop, opening;
the heart’s small honeycomb

of earth. Sit with me awhile.
I have so much to tell you.


*The line “having been stained” is taken from fragment number 4 in Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho.


Tinder Language

after Brenda Hillman

Always, fire forming.
Always, what you have lost

in the edges of trees,
in the mountaintops: violet.

Startle of doe,
knocked out dogwood.

The woods muddy, unfurl.
What cannot be said

dark like a sky.

Cervidae, Cornus florida.
Hills like vowels.

My mouth a sea—
the body of a field.

Caitlin Neely is an MFA candidate at the University of Virginia. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM , THRUSH Poetry Journal and Devil’s Lake. She is the founder of The MFA Years.